Family Lawyer in Cyprus

Family law in Cyprus is a great area of our legal system.  Family lawyers within our law firm deal with all areas of the family and matrimonial laws and regulations of Cyprus and Greece on a permanent basis.

Our Firm’s family lawyers in Cyprus will assist clients to understand the legal principles that are consisted with the family members and their relationships, rights and duties within family as well as obligations created by marriage. For more details of our Firm’s services in relation to Matrimonial and Family Law please refer to Our Practice Areas.  Marriage, apart from ecclesiastical/religious, is also a legal agreement that comprises by certain rights and obligations regardless of what both spouses agree to do. When spouses face problems in their marital relationship and/or in matters relating to their children and especially when the marriage is heading towards breakdown, some issues and disputes, inevitably arising from the breakdown, must be regulated by the appropriate court, which in Cyprus is the Family Court, through the assistance of a Cyprus divorce lawyer.

Family Courts affords great scope for helping people in a very vital change in their lives. Divorce is not the only area covered in family law; visitation rights, adoption, child custody, spouse abuse are some further areas of family law that family lawyers in Cyprus need to be familiar with. In general, the Family Courts in Cyprus and Greece have jurisdiction to deal with cases concerning:

  • Dissolution of marriage (religious, civil);
  • Family relationship issues in court proceedings arising under the provisions of bilateral or multilateral conventions signed by the Republic of Cyprus;
  • Issues of parental care, alimony, affiliation proceedings, adoption, property issues, between the spouses and any other marital or family dispute, provided that the parties or one of them resides in the  Republic of Cyprus for a continuous period of more than 3 months prior to the filing of the application at the Family court.

DIVORCE IN CYPRUS:

A. General Principles:

  • A marriage can be dissolved through a Cyprus divorce lawyer after the filing of a divorce petition on behalf of either of the spouses, when the deterioration of the relationship between them has led to the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage for reasons which may be attributed to the respondent or to both spouses so that it can be safely said that the continuation of the marital relationship is intolerable to the petitioner.
  • According to Cyprus law, the continuous separation for a period of four (4) years creates an irrebutable presumption of irretrievable breakdown.
  • The irretrievable breakdown of a marital relationship is presumed (unless the contrary is proven by the Responded) in the following cases: Bigamy, adultery, desertion or an attempt against the life of the Petitioner by the Respondent.
  • Independently of irretrievable breakdown of the marital relationship the following constitute independent grounds for divorce:
    • change of sex of the Respondent
    • desertion of the Petitioner by the Respondent
    • An attempt against the life of the Petitioner by the Respondent.

The procedure followed by the Family Court as regards testimony/ evidence is the same as the procedure followed in civil cases.

During the period of desertion, the court may issue an order in favour of one spouse, for the exclusive use of the whole or part of the dwelling that is used as the family home, independently of who is the registered owner.

B. Practical Issues

The question of culpability as to the causation of the irretrievable breakdown of the marital relationship has no bearing on the other rights and obligations of the spouses. For this reason, as there is often no incentive on the part of the Respondent to contest the petition, a great number of divorces are issued in the absence of one of the spouses which means that the divorces are issued quickly. In practice, a divorce petition which proceeds without opposition on the part of the respondent, can be concluded within 4 – 6 months approximately from the date of its filing.

As far as religious marriages are concerned, it is not necessary for a divorce to be issued by the church because under the Law the Family Courts have exclusive jurisdiction to dissolve marriages. However both civil and religious marriages are valid. In case the spouse obtaining the divorce wishes to remarry through a religious marriage, then it is possible to face problems as the Church will refuse to perform the marriage unless a religious divorce is first issued in addition to the civil divorce.

As regards the dissolution of a religious marriage that was conducted according to the Orthodox religion, the law requires that, prior to the filing of the divorce petition, a notice must be sent to the Metropolis and a period of three (3) months must elapse before filing the petition.

A petition for divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown, may not lead to a divorce in case the respondent spouse defends the petition without counterclaiming for the issue of the divorce in his or her favour.

MAINTENANCE BETWEEN SPOUSES IN CYPRUS:

A. General Principle:

The spouses, depending on their means, have a mutual obligation to provide maintenance. During a separation period the court may order the spouse that is in a better financial position, to pay alimony to the other spouse.

The obligation to provide maintenance may continue in some cases even after the issue of the divorce.

B. Practical Issues

In practice it is rare for the male spouse to file a maintenance petition against the female spouse, although in theory there if nothing to stop him from doing so, if her financial standing is better than his.

It is possible for an interim maintenance order to be issued ex parte, i.e. before the respondent is notified or heard, provided that there is an urgent need to provide maintenance immediately after the separation e.g. where the female spouse is not working and is unable to support herself until the hearing of the petition.

PROPERTY ISSUES BETWEEN SPOUSES IN CYPRUS:

A. General Principle:

A spouse who has in any way contributed towards the increase of the movable or immovable assets of the other spouse during the marriage or even before, if such contribution was made in anticipation of the marriage, is entitled to claim the part of the increase which represents his or her contribution.

  • According to Cyprus law, there is a rebutable presumption that the 1/3 of the increase of the assets of one spouse was contributed by the other spouse.
  • The claim on the other spouse’s assets is time barred two (2) years after the dissolution of the marriage by the family court.

B. Practical Issues :

  • The court can take into account assets located abroad.
  • Anything that was acquired by way of gift is not taken into account in assessing  the increase of assets

ISSUES OF PARENTAL CARE – COMMUNICATION IN CYPRUS:

A. General Principle:

The parental care is exercised jointly by both parents. In case of dispute between the parents as to the exercise of parental care, the issue is decided by the Family Court.

Every decision taken by the parents or by the court, regarding the exercise of the parental care, must aim at the best interest of the child. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, his or her wishes will be considered before any decision that concerns him/her is reached.

In case of separation or divorce, the exercise of parental care is regulated by the court, unless the parents agree otherwise between themselves.

The parent living apart from the child has a right of access and communication with him or her.

In court proceedings where the custody, care, welfare or guardianship of the child, are in issue a Social Worker is appointed in order to investigate the family and other circumstances in order to assist the Court in determining what the best interest of the child is.

The grandparents also have a right of access and communication with the children.

The Cyprus courts have jurisdiction to deal with cases of parental care of a child, even though the child is in Cyprus only temporarily, e.g. for holidays.

B. Practical Issues

An interim order may be issued regulating temporary access and communication, before the final judgment of the court on the matter.

A parent who does not have parental care of the children is nevertheless entitled to seek a right of communication.

Willful disobedience to a court order giving the right of communication amounts to contempt of court, and is punishable accordingly.

There is no discrimination between parents on the ground of their sex, in determining who should exercise the parental care. A variety of factors are taken into account, such as who the children are already living with or, if they are of an age which allows them to express a reliable opinion, what their wish is. It should be stressed however that in cases of infants of tender age or young girls the exercise of the judicial discretion usually favours the mother whereas for older boys the father.

CHILD SUPPORT IN CYPRUS:

A. General Principles:

Both parents are jointly responsible for the support and maintenance of the child, according to their respective means. The obligation for child support may continue, in some cases, even after the child is 18 e.g. if studying. The court may issue an interim order for the maintenance of a child pending the final determination of the issue after a hearing.

In the Cyprus law there is also a provision for the obligation of grown up children to support their parents who are unable to support themselves. Any amounts payable under a court order for maintenance are recoverable in the same way as fines.

B. Practical Issues

Interim orders, for the maintenance of children, pending final adjudication, are readily issued by the courts, as it is necessary to provide the means of support of children during the, sometimes, long period their parents are fighting each other in divorce proceedings.

If children live with the father and the mother’s income is substantial, there is nothing to prevent the father from claiming from the mother contribution towards the support of the children.

Gifts are not taken into account in assessing the amount payable by a parent for the maintenance of a child.

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