Updated: January 19, 2024
In Cyprus, family law governs the relationship between separated spouses and their children. After a couple separates, several matters arise. Each issue is considered a separate case and is heard in a Cyprus family court. These courts have exclusive authority to decide on petitions for divorce, child custody arrangements, maintenance, and property disputes between spouses who 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 in Cyprus: 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 in Cyprus can be filed by any spouse at the District Family Court 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. In this case, the other party may be ordered to pay the legal fees. 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 defence, either denying the reasons for the divorce or 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 regarding 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 it to be issued. If they agree, the approximate time for the applicant (spouse) to receive the divorce paper 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 lengthy, 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:
Regarding the distribution of the common property of the spouses, the Court will consider the value of the property on the day of the spouses’ separation.
Any spouse 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 afterwards, both parties will try to reach an agreement. The Court will decide if an agreement cannot be reached 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, a court order is issued directly and specifically regarding the right of communication and the days and times the other parent will be able to exercise his/her right of contact with his/her child/children.
If the parents cannot agree on the issues stated above, the court proceedings will continue through the written positions of both parties. Afterwards, 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 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, 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 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 petition filing 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.
If you are facing any family-related legal issues or disputes in Cyprus, we can provide you with expert advice on all matters of Cypriot family law, including:
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 Cyprus family law matters. Don’t hesitate to contact us for further details.
What services do family lawyers provide?
Family lawyers guide their clients and help them navigate family law matters such as divorce, finances and financial settlement upon divorce, child law, and international family law matters. They also advise unmarried couples on questions of property and finances. They generally undertake all legal aspects of family life and the relevant procedures before the court(s). Some offices offer mediation services that help clients reach viable solutions on financial and other arrangements outside the court.
How much does it cost to get a divorce in Cyprus?
The cost of a divorce in Cyprus depends on the length of the procedure. An uncontested divorce may cost about EUR 800 plus VAT.
What is the divorce law in Cyprus?
The main divorce legislation in Cyprus consists of the following laws: the Marriage Law of 2003 (104(I)/2003); the Family Courts Law 1990 (23/1990); the Attempted Conciliation and Spiritual Dissolution of Marriage Law (22/1990); and, the Spouse Property Relations (Regulation) Law of 1991 (232/1991).
What are the grounds for a divorce?
The grounds for divorce in Cyprus are grounds that testify to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for reasons that have to do with the respondent and are adultery, bigamy, abusive incident(s) making the marriage unbearable for the applicant, physical abuse against the applicant or child(ren) of the family, and two years of separation. Two further grounds are unjustified desertion and change of gender on the part of the respondent. In 2023, the irretrievable marriage breakdown because of mutual consent to divorce was recognised as a ground for divorce in Cyprus. Divorce by mutual consent can only be obtained after at least 6 months of marriage.
How do I obtain a divorce in Cyprus?
To obtain a divorce in Cyprus, you apply to the District Family Court and get the date for the first hearing. A copy of the application will be forwarded to your spouse. If the spouse does not contest the application, the divorce is often a matter of two months. However, if the spouse contests the application, there will be a trial. This is a longer process. In addition, if you had a religious ceremony, you must notify the bishop electronically through the website https://pnevmatikilysi.cy.net/. You will receive a confirmation and a notice to attend a conciliation meeting with your spouse. If the meeting is unsuccessful, you will apply for religious dissolution of marriage. Once the dissolution is issued, it becomes final within 30 days. This is where you can apply to the District Family Court (see start of the question).
How long is the divorce procedure in the Cyprus courts?
This depends on whether the divorce petition is contested or not. An uncontested divorce usually takes about two months.
When may alimony be obtained?
You have a right to alimony provided that 1) you are of an age or health condition that you cannot perform adequate work to earn a living, or 2) you are caring for underage child(ren) or adult child(ren) with a physical or mental disability, or, 3) you cannot find a job or need training to do so, in which case you will receive alimony for three years, or, 4) for reasons of fairness or other circumstances showing need. The court can stop, reduce, or adjust the alimony payments if circumstances require this. Interim alimony payments may be ordered if necessary (payments during the divorce process and hearing). Alimony may not be given if the marriage is short or the applicant has exhibited severely blameworthy behaviour. Alimony is paid monthly. If the payer has a 13th and 14th salary, there can be 13th and 14th payments.
What is legal separation in Cyprus?
There is no legal separation in Cyprus. Usually, a separation is obtained by people who wish to terminate their common lives but (on ethical, religious or other grounds) would prefer not to get a divorce. They will apply for an order of separation. Such an order will also arrange financial and children matters. Nevertheless, there is no procedure for legal separation in Cyprus.
What conditions are necessary to file for divorce?
You must talk to your family lawyer and discuss whether you satisfy any of the divorce grounds. See the answer to the question "What are the grounds for a divorce?" above.
Can the divorce be appealed, and what is the effect of an appeal?
Yes, you can appeal the divorce decree or part of it to the Family Court (appellate jurisdiction). You can ask the court to set aside or differentiate the order(s) made. The divorce decree becomes final once the deadline for filing an appeal (6 weeks) has passed.
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