Family Law Legal Advice
Marriage is legally binding in Cyprus and it can either be conducted through church or through any of the municipalities in Cyprus (civil marriage). Either way, disputes arising between couples fall under family law.
Cyprus family law is based on Greek family law with influences from the Common Law and is a great area of our legal system. Cyprus family courts, however, have over the years created their own jurisprudence and one can say that we now have an autonomous system of Cyprus family law. The Family Court is the appropriate forum to adjudicate family law issues like divorce, separation from bed and board, the cohabitation of spouses, issues relating to the children or matrimonial relations.
The divorce procedure in both cases has to be conducted through the courts and most of the time the maintenance payments and financial arrangements are the most common issues lawyers have to deal with, whereas in instances where the spouse or the husband come from a third country or from another Member State, the legal procedures are much more complicated.
There are several grounds for divorce. Generally, the petitioner must establish that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The petitioner may also invoke/prove the following:
that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her
that the respondent has committed adultery
that the respondent has deserted the petitioner
that the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of six months or more.
In the event of religious marriage a letter should be dispatched by the client (in his name) to the Archbishop. With the letter the intention of the client to file a divorce is notified. The letter is sent by registered post. The right to apply for a divorce in court is obtained approximately 3 months after receipt of the letter by the Archbishop. In order for us to prepare the application, it’s necessary for us to have a number of details such as the Marriage Certificate, the exact date of the wedding and the reasons for the divorce.
As soon as the petition is complete, it will be filed with the Court and served to the other side. If the respondent consents to the divorce, then the practice is to avoid appointing a lawyer so that the Petitioner can proceed in default and the divorce may be issued within two months. However if the respondent disputes the petition and appoints a lawyer, then the case will take much longer.
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.
In the event of civil marriage, a divorce application can be registered at any time directly at the Court without any preceding action.
In the event of death of one of the two spouses, the dissolution of the marriage is ipso jure.
The Matrimonial Home
Objectivity being one of the Court’s main considerations when it comes to assessing the special circumstances of each spouse and the welfare of the children is deciding who of the two spouses will be using the matrimonial home during separation and before divorce.
There is an obligation to support the financially weaker party. The spouse entitled to maintenance is not required to be destitute. The beneficiary spouse, after the set-off has been made, is entitled to enjoy from the other’s property what he/she enjoyed during the time of cohabitation. This obligation exists whether the beneficiary provoked the interruption for good cause or without reasonable cause.
In cases of divorce, the duty to maintain children is determined according to the economic and financial means of both parents. It is subject to the genuine revelation of the parents’ corresponding income. Interim orders, for the maintenance of children are readily issued by the courts, pending final adjudication. The obligation for child support may continue, in some cases, even after the child is 18 years old if studying.
Parental Care – Communication
In the case of a divorce, the exercise of parental care is regulated by the court, unless the parents come to an agreement between themselves. The parent living apart from the child has a right of access and communication with their child. The grandparents also have a right of access and communication with the children.
A parent who decides to leave Cyprus with his or her children without first seeking the approval of their other half could soon be subject to criminal prosecution.
In court proceedings where the custody, care and welfare of the child, are in question, a Social Worker is appointed in order to run an investigation on the family and other circumstances in order to assist the Court in determining where the best interest of the child lies.
Adoption is the legal action which creates parental relation between the adopted child and the adopting parents. Our legal advisers can guide you through the whole adoption process which includes the documentation and filing with the corresponding authorities, the issuance of the adoption decree by the court, the process of obtaining certain certificates of the child as well as the immigration process.
Parents who are legally entitled to submit the application must satisfy the below criteria:
- One of them has to be a permanent resident in the country or to have been residing in the country for the past two years.
- The child which is to be adopted is a resident in the country during the submission of the application.
- The consent of the natural parents or guardians of the child is required.
A social investigation for the adopting family is firstly carried out.
The adoption process may take around 6-8 months to be completed counting from the date the documents are received by our legal advisers. The outcome of the adoption is most significant as the bonds of the adopted child with its natural family and/or guardian are cut and the child acquires all the legal rights and status of its adopting family.
Property Rights and Financial Arrangements
The key consideration for the division of property in cases of the dissolution of the marriage is the contribution made by each spouse and the relevant time of the dissolution of the marriage. The claim on the other spouse’s assets is time barred 2 years after the dissolution of the marriage. The behaviour of the spouse is also taken into account by the Court.
The foremost principle is that each spouse may claim his/her contribution to the increase of the property of the other spouse. There is a presumption in the Law that the contribution of each spouse in the increase of the property of the other is equal to 1/3 of the increase unless it is otherwise proven. Assets located abroad are included. Anything that was acquired by way of gift is not taken into account.
Ownership is the main criterion for the distribution of movables during separation despite the fact that something may have been used or shared by both. However if the circumstances of the case show that the use of them by the other spouse is absolutely necessary for reasons of equity then the Court has the power to order a particular movable to remain with the spouse that does not own it. Fault does not contribute to the decision in the distribution of movables or the settlement of the matrimonial home.
Our specialized family court lawyers deal with all areas of the family and matrimonial laws and regulations and are in position to provide legal advice and representation over all Family Law proceedings, adoption procedures and any other disputes that may arise within the family circle. Each case is handled with respect and discretion, aiming to develop a personal relationship with our clients, based on mutual trust.