When parents are separated or when they receive a divorce in Cyprus, an official court decision is issued, and a child or children are involved then, both parents should take into consideration the interests of the child or children based on the Cypriot Family Law.
The parent who does not exercise parental care of the children should pay the maintenance required to cover their needs, which is calculated based on the children's needs and lifestyle before the dissolution of marriage. The petition of maintenance is completely separate from the custody proceedings, which are a different petition in terms of the Cyprus Family Courts.
In general, both spouses are obliged to contribute to the upbringing of their minor children, and the maintenance is calculated, depending on their financial situation at the time the petition is filed at the Court.
Maintenance obligation exists in all cases even if the parent has no contact with the minor child or if he is not the biological father, i.e., if the child was born outside marriage, then the father who recognized the child as his own, has the liability to pay maintenance to the spouse with whom the child is living.
The procedure for determining the conditions of maintenance begins with applying to the competent Family Court by the parent with whom the minor children live with. Upon the case is filed, it receives a hearing date. Certified copies of the above petition have to be served to the other parent who has the right to appear in Court and ask for time to file his or her defense.
The above petition can be submitted simultaneously with an ex-parte petition which is of urgent nature, and with that, the Applicant can request from the Court to issue a temporary Court Order by which the Respondent will be ordered to pay a monthly amount to the Applicant until the main petition is over or until the Court finally examines the ex-parte petition. To issue such a decree, the Applicant is required to sign an affidavit at the Court, in which they state the children's expenses and the financial situation of both parents.
Once the temporary Court Order is issued, it is served to the Respondent, who can also request time to file his or her defense for that purpose. The temporary decree may be amended or canceled if the Court is satisfied that the Applicant referred to lies in his or her affidavit.
Separation of the spouses or the final issuance of their divorce raises several issues, including the maintenance of the adult children. When the children become adults, they can apply on their own using a lawyer's services, at the competent Court asking for maintenance from the spouse that was covering their maintenance before becoming adults. For example, they can ask and receive maintenance regarding covering part of their educational fees or to receive support when they are exercising military service. The right of the adult children to receive maintenance to be effective has to be included in a Court Order.
The Family Courts have jurisdiction over a maintenance petition if the child or children live in the area where the Court is located.
The Court Order will cover the following list of expenses:
The minor children’s needs and the income of both parents are taken into account in determining the amount of maintenance obligations of the parents. Both parents are obliged to pay for their child's needs each month. The amount of maintenance is paid to the parent on behalf of the child, who has been awarded the custody of the child.
If one parent is earning €2.000 per month and the other parent is earning €1.000 per month, then the Court could order, for example, one parent to cover the 2/3 of the minor's maintenance and the other parent to cover the 1/3. If, for example, the minor needs €600 per month, then one parent contributes €400 and the other parent the remaining €200.
As soon as the spouses agree on the maintenance amount, the Court can issue a child maintenance order. If the parents cannot reach an agreement between them then, the Court will decide based on the unique facts of each case.
If the parent against whom there is a maintenance order does not pay what he/she was ordered to do then, the Court might order their imprisonment after the spouse who has custody of the child files the corresponding petition. This is done by signing an affidavit in which the overdue amount is stated.
The Registrar then notifies the parent who is delaying the installments to appear at the Court and explain why he or she is not covering the maintenance. If the parent shows sufficient evidence to the Court regarding the reasons preventing him or her from covering the maintenance installments, the Court may give him or her a reasonable period of time to cover the overdue amount(s). Once the deadline expires, the police will attempt to collect the overdue amount if he or she does not comply. In case of refusal to pay, he or she will be imprisoned.
Once the divorce is granted, the parent with whom the children live acquires the right to a single-parent benefit of around €180 for each child. A prerequisite for this benefit is the issuance of the Divorce and a Court Order of Maintenance or Custody.