Finnish family and sucession law regulate three models of couples' relationship: 

  • MARRIAGE, between persons of opposite and same sex

  • REGISTERED PARTNERSHIP, between persons of same sex

  • DE FACTO COHABITATION, between persons of opposite and same sex

The frst category is regulated by the Marriage Act, the second by the Registered Partnerships Act and the third by the Dissolution of the Household of Cohabiting Partners Act.


Links to applicable regulations



  • In relation to matrimonial property regime the following applies.

The principle of separation of property applies between spouses and accordingly each spouse owns the property which he or she has acquired before the conclusion of marriage and which he or she acquires during the marriage. Each spouse is also responsible for a debt that he or she has incurred regardless of whether it was incurred before or during the marriage. However, both spouses are jointly and severally liable for a maintenance debt – a debt that either of spouses has incurred for the maintenance of the family – and for debts that they have taken together regardless of the purpose of the debt. 

The default rule is that the spouses have a marital right to each other's property irrespective of whether the property is movable or immovable property (or whether it is situated in Finland or abroad). The property that is covered by the marital right (so-called marital property) is divided in case of dissolution of the marriage.

In a marital agreement concluded before or during the marriage, spouses or future spouses are able to exclude from the scope of the marital right any property which either of them already owns or later acquires. If the spouses have concluded a marital agreement according to which marital right is mutually excluded, only a separation of property takes place in the dissolution of the marriage.

  • In case of divorce, both spouses are entitled to receive half of the spouses' net marital property.

The date of the institution of divorce proceedings determines property that is taken into account in the calculations. Any property that either spouse earns, inherits or receives as a gift after this date is not included in the calculation. The value of the property is determined on the date of the division. Each spouse's own debts incurred before to the institution of divorce proceedings and his/her share of the common debts have to be deducted and if a spouse is indebted, his/her net assets is marked as zero. Following this, the net marital assets (property covered by a marital right) of each spouse are calculated together and divided by two in order to determine a portion what a spouse has a right to. If one spouse's property covered by the marital right exceeds that of the other spouse, the difference is evened out. This end-result can be adjusted if the end-result would otherwise lead to an unreasonable detriment for one spouse, and the other spouse would receive an unjustifiable benefit due to the division (Sec. 103b of the Marriage Act). 

In case the spouses have mutually excluded the marital right, only a separation of property takes place. The separation means that both spouses receive their own property. Also the separation of assets may be adjusted and it can be decided that part of the spouse's property or all of it is marital property.



  • From 2002 until 2017 registered partnerships were available for same-sex couples. Legal effects, including property ones, of a registered partnership are in general the same as a marriage. This refers also to the rules of private international law as the Registered Partnerships Act does not include special private international law provisions pertaining to personal obligations. 

  • A Finnish registered partnership may be turned into a marriage if the parties submit a joint application with the Local Register Office. If they choose not to do this, the parties continue to live in a registered partnership. New partnerships cannot be registered anymore. 



  • The Marriage Act is not, applicable to cohabitees, including to the property.

The property of each cohabitee remains separate during and after the cohabitation. The rights and duties of the de facto cohabitees is not comparable to the rights and duties of married spouses. The maintenance debt is not known as there is no obligation to maintain the cohabiting partner. The cohabitation does not create marital right to the property of the other partner. The owner is free to administer his or her property as he or she wishes.

  • The Dissolution of the Household of Cohabiting Partners Act is applicable when partnership ends. The Dissolution of the Household of Cohabiting Partners Act applies only if the partners have lived in a common household for at least five years. It also applies after a shorter period of time if the partners have or have had a joint child or a joint parental responsibility for a child.

According to the main rule, each de facto cohabitee keeps what he or she owns and the property is separated. If, however, either of the partners has through a contribution for the benefit of the common household assisted the other partner in retaining or accumulating his or her property, a partner may be able to receive compensation from the other partner. 

  • If the Dissolution of the Household of Cohabiting Partners Act is not applicable, the civil property rules are applicable and for instance, if either has made financial contributions to the property of the other, he or she may raise a claim based on unjust enrichment. 

Based on the national report prepared by Tuulikki Mikkola