It was 1982 when Andreas Papandreou’s government caused quite a stir in traditionally Orthodox Greece by legalizing civil marriage.
At first, only a few couples chose a civil ceremony because of the various prejudices in Greek society. Nowadays, however, civil marriages outnumber religious services.
The gap between the two codes began to narrow by the beginning of the 21st century, and civil marriages outnumbered religious for the first time in 2012. More specifically, that year, 25,730 couples were married in civil ceremonies compared to 23,980 couples who opted to tie the knot in church (51.8% and 48.2% respectively).
According to data provided by several notaries, civil marriages continued to rise in 2013, and had reached 40%-50% of total marriages, according to Konstantinos Vlachakis, the president of the Hellenic Notary Association. The popularity of civil marriages has been attributed to the financial crisis, the increase in mixed marriages and the influence of European ideas.
Meanwhile, the cohabitation agreement hasn’t proven very popular among Greeks. Only few had chosen this way to formalize their relationship, again because of various social prejudices and inequalities. Lawyers also characterize the Greek cohabitation arrangement instituted in 2008 as being the least popular in Europe.