Updated: May 15, 2023
Cyprus family law regulates the relationship between spouses and children after the couple's separation.
After the separation, the following matters arise; each is a separate case for the family court.
The family courts have exclusive jurisdiction to determine petitions for divorce, custody of children, maintenance, and property disputes between spouses where the parties are members of the Greek Orthodox Church.
If the parties belong to one of the other religious groups, jurisdiction is vested in the Family Court for Religious Groups. There are 3 Family Courts, one for Nicosia and Kyrenia, one for Limassol and Paphos, and one for Larnaca and Famagusta. There is also one Family Court for Religious Groups based in Nicosia.
A petition for divorce can be filed at the District Family Court by any of the spouses after their separation. For the Cypriot Courts to have jurisdiction, the spouses must live in Cyprus for at least three months before filing the divorce application.
The petition stated above includes the facts of the case, name of parties, date of marriage, address, and if they have a child/ children. The central part of the petition that the Court will consider is the reasons for the divorce and which of the spouses is responsible for those reasons. Or whether the spouses are equally liable for the divorce, for example, similarly accountable for the severe breakdown of the relationship (loss of contact, miscommunication, conflicts).
If one of the spouses is responsible, then he/she will be ordered by the Court to pay the costs of the trial/legal proceedings. If both parties are guilty, each party will pay its expenses.
Once the petition is filed by one of the spouses, the Court sets a specific date for the first hearing. The divorce petition is served to the other spouse so that he/she can be aware of the first hearing to be present. Or he/she can appoint a divorce lawyer to defend the petition.
If one of the spouses does not appoint a family lawyer or if he/she does not appear in the first hearing, then the case is set for finalization, and the divorce is issued in his/her absence. The other party may be ordered to pay the legal fees in this case. Moreover, per recent amendments to the family law procedure and rules, the applicant party does not need to give verbal evidence in the courtroom to prove his/her petition. But he/she needs only to sign an affidavit confirming the reasons for the divorce petition. Then the divorce is issued.
If the other party appoints a lawyer, they will submit their written defense, through which they will be either denying the reasons for the divorce or will simply be adding their intentions for it. And the court will proceed to trial.
In all cases, before trial, the family lawyers always help the parties to reach a friendly settlement of the petition and the issuance of the divorce. Furthermore, judgments of divorce by the Court do not mention any reasons for divorce, just the fact that the marriage is dissolved.
The legal costs for divorce in Cyprus depend on the procedure and are determined by the lawyers’ rules. If the parties agree and there will not be any dispute as to the issue of the divorce, the costs can be pre-agreed with the lawyer.
Cypriot government fees for filing a divorce application, including stamps and bailiff fees, are about €200. Divorce lawyer fees vary depending on the facts of each case and whether the spouses mutually agree to the divorce. An average cost is usually around 800 euros plus VAT and expenses if both spouses are in Cyprus and agree on the divorce.
The complexity of the divorce procedure in Cyprus relates to whether one of the spouses wants to object to the divorce procedure. If both spouses agree on the issuance of the divorce, it will not take too long for the divorce to be issued. An approximate time for the applicant (spouse) to receive the divorce paper if they both agree is 1.5-2 months. Another requirement for that timeline to be met is that the respondent's address (the other spouse) is known to the applicant. And the bailiff can reach him/her to serve them the divorce petition. If one of the spouses desires to object to the issuance of the divorce, then the procedure will be long, with an approximate time of a minimum of nine months to 1 year and a half.
Any property acquired by the spouses during the first cohabitation with the prospect of marriage and during their marriage is a common property of the spouses. It can be distributed through filing a petition at the District Family Court as follows:
For the division among the parties of their joint property, the financial contribution of each spouse separately to the acquisition of their common property is considered. Any property that each spouse had before cohabitation with a prospect of marriage is and remains his/her own. Meaning that it will not be considered by the Court and will not be distributed. Furthermore, any property acquired by the spouses through a donation from their parents is and remains their property, and it will not be considered or distributed by the Court.
Regarding the distribution of the common property of the spouses, the Court will consider the value of the property on the day of the separation of the spouses.
Any of the spouses can file a petition at the Court, and he/she must serve the petition to the other party. After the appearance of both parties at the court, they will file their written positions, and afterward, both parties will try to reach an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will decide based on the parties’ written positions.
After the couple's divorce, one of the parents will have the child/children's care and custody and the other parent has the right to adequate communication with the child/children.
One of the two parents can file a petition at the District Family Court, where the child lives. Thus after legal proceedings, the Court will decide which of the parents will take the childcare and custody, and it will regulate the right of communication of the other parent.
If both parents agree on the above matters, then a court order is issued directly and specifically regarding the right of communication and the days and time the other parent will be able to exercise his/her right of contact with his/her child/children.
If the parents cannot reach an agreement on the issues stated above, the court proceedings will continue through the written positions of both parties. Afterward, the Court will come up with a final decision bearing in mind the opinions of the parties as well as the Local Welfare’s Office Report. The Local Welfare Office will assign an employee of theirs to visit each parent's home to prepare a report for the Court proceedings regarding the living conditions of the parents and child/children. The report will also be based on the opinion of children regarding, for example, with whom of the parents they want to stay with.
The Parents and Children Relations Laws 1990 to 2008 include all the provisions regarding childcare and maintenance and communication with the parents and removing through court proceedings the childcare and maintenance off one of the parents and more. The parents are undoubtedly and inseparably responsible for the child/children’s maintenance up to the age of 18.
The parent who has the childcare and custody following a Court decision is entitled to claim child maintenance for the minor child/children from the other parent. The claim stated above must be filed through a petition at the District Family Court, where the children/child live(s).
The court considers the needs of the child/children and each parent's income separately and jointly determines the child maintenance amount. Both parents must contribute to their child/children's maintenance based on their income and financial needs and expenses. The support may be agreed upon between the parties, and then a Court order can be issued. However, if the parents disagree on the above, the Court, through legal proceedings, decides on the amount of maintenance and issues a court order.
After the family court order, the parent must pay the maintenance amount to his/her child/children. Otherwise, the other parent can claim an arrest warrant against him/her. Adult children also have a right to maintenance if they are students. In this case, however, they must file a new petition at the District Family Court against the parent from whom they are requesting the maintenance.
The parent who has the childcare and custody following a Court order, if he/she is not receiving any financial support from the other parent for the maintenance of the child, is entitled to file an ex-parte petition at the court, meaning without giving notice to the other party. The procedure stated above through an ex-parte appeal is usually followed when financial support is urgent for the child. The Court will hear the case immediately following the filing of the petition and issue an order so that the child/children can receive immediate financial support. However, some requirements must be met for the court to issue the order. The order stated above that is released is not final unless the court decides so. Moreover, before issuing the order, the Court can request the opinion of the other parent against whom such an order is demanded.
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Our team of family lawyers in Limassol has the necessary experience and is ready to deal with any of the above matters. We provide specialized legal opinions on all family law matters, don't hesitate to contact us for further details.
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