Family law in Cyprus
Family law as the name suggests governs the relationships amongst family members most notably between spouses, children-parents and other such relations. With the evolution of society, it is now common for family laws to be applicable also to partners who aren’t married but live together. The importance of family law in society is apparent in the kind of matters which fall under it. Marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance, and adoption, all are governed by the statues of family law. The modern family law in Cyprus takes heavily from the Greek family laws evolved over many centuries.
Jurisdiction in Cyprus
Family courts are interpreters of family law and have the jurisdiction on all matters dealing with it. In case the parties belong to one of the religious groups other than the Greek Orthodox church according to the Article 2.3 of the constitution, the same jurisdiction and powers are vested in the Family Court for Religious Groups. In some cases of Turkish Cypriots, the President of the District Court has the same powers and jurisdiction to resolve matters as a family court. The family courts in Cyprus can also enforce the decisions of foreign courts as long as there are mutual treaties for the same between the respective governments.
Any family matters involving property fall straight under the family court jurisdiction. However, if there’s no property involved it can only exercise jurisdiction when at least one of the parties to the dispute has resided within the territory of the country for a minimum, continuous period of three months.
Marriage & Divorce
Marriages in Cyprus either are religious marriages conducted by the religious priests of the respective group or are civil in nature conducted by the administrative appointees. Civil marriages carry a relatively smaller number of processes to get a divorce. In a civil marriage, the person applying for a divorce can apply directly to the family court whereas in a religious marriage the Bishop or priest of the religious group must first be notified of the willingness to divorce and the application to the court can only be made after 3 months from the notification to the Bishop. This provision is made available respecting the rights of the religious groups and to provide enough time to try towards reconciliation of the marriage.
Grounds for divorce include an irreparable breakdown of marriage, continuous estrangement of more than four years. In the case of religious marriages, additional specific grounds are provided like infidelity, inexcusable conduct and staying out of the home with false accusations of adultery, abandonment etc. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is often broad enough to include most reasons in case of civil marriages including reasons like bigamy, infidelity, danger to life etc. Cyprus has the straightforward provision of divorcing with consent available too.
Alimony & Property Disputes
Both spouses have the right to alimony from the other depending upon who is the dependent out of the two and has lesser economic resources to take care of their needs considering their lifestyle before the divorce.
A spouse can also apply for maintenance even while the divorce proceedings are going on if they do not have the resources to maintain themselves.
Properties after divorce belong to their rightful owners unless they were acquired after marriage combinedly. A spouse who contributed to the other’s property thereby resulting in an increase in the value of that property can also claim a part in that property if the increase in value is found to be caused due to their contribution.
Regardless of the ownership of the property, the family court can make an order for exclusive use of the residential home, in part or in whole, in favor of one of the spouses as long as the proceedings are continuing. This is done when the welfare of the family and/or the spouse is at stake facing threat of violence or of any other such kind.
Parental Responsibilities & Custody
In case of a dispute between the parents, the court can make necessary orders as it deems fit for the welfare of the children produced from a marriage or naturalized through adoption. The court in cases of divorce is also the final decider on which parent would have the custody of the child and the right to the child’s representation. It also decides on the visitation rights of the other parent. The final decision on such matters are taken after a thorough investigation by the social welfare department and the child’s wishes are given significant value. The court also has the power to enforce the statutory binding on both parents to provide for their minor children.
Family courts in Cyprus also preside over the adoptions in the country. After an adoption for all purposes the child is treated as the natural child of the adoptive parent, ceasing all the rights and duties of the natural parent. The adoption is granted mostly to couples or husband/wife of natural parent applying with or without the natural parent. Though it might also be granted to single applicants in special circumstances if they qualify.
We can assist you
Simon Zenios Co has extensive and intricate experience in dealing with a variety of family law cases from divorce & adoption to inheritance and property disputes. If you have queries about any aspect of family law in Cyprus please allow us an opportunity to help.