Green Light for Claims in the Family Court for Share in the Deceased Spouse Property

An extremely interesting decision of the Second-Degree Family Court (appeal no. 22/2020) has been issued on 14.4.2022 regarding marital property claims against the estate of late ex- spouses.  In reaching its decision, the court interpreted Article 15 of L.232/1991 which expressly prohibits the revival of the right to the heirs of a deceased potential claimant.

It is common knowledge, that Article 14(1) of L. 232/1991 allows ex- spouses to apply to the Family Court and claim such part as they believe they have contributed to the increase in the property of their ex-spouse during marriage.

When a potential claimant dies, his or her right is not revived to benefit his/her heirs according to Article 15(b).

However, the Greek wording of A. 15(b) is somewhat vague which led the first instance court to overrule a claim by an ex-wife against the estate of her deceased husband. The judge misinterpreting A. 15 (b), ruled that it prohibits claims against the heir of the late spouse.

Overturning the decision, the upper family court ruled that A.15(b) merely inhibits claims against the ex-spouse of the deceased by his/hers heirs.

Of particular interest is the fact that the court, by reviewing and taking into account the relevant Law in Greece, extended its ruling to leave the door open for a spouse to claim a fair share in the deceased spouse property, without the prerequisite of divorce at all.

It does not matter, said the Court, if the marriage with the other spouse has been discontinued by death or by divorce, cancellation or separation and then the other spouse died.

Stephanos Papatheodorou