Marriage Dissolution or Divorce is a term which refers to the process by which a couple can end their marriage permanently. Cyprus has the highest divorce rate in Europe, with one in five marriages ending in divorce. Thankfully, the procedure of dissolving a marriage is one of the most straightforward procedures in Cyprus. The time it takes to issue a divorce depends on the circumstances of each individual case.
The Marriage Law was enacted in Cyprus in 2003, regulating every marriage registered after 2003. The Cypriot Family Courts Law regulates marriages – and divorces – which were registered before 2003. The Cypriot Civil Law does not acknowledge the term “legal separation”. Cyprus Family Courts may issue a marriage annulment if the application is submitted within three years from its registration.
The procedure begins with the applicant’s lawyer filing the petition of divorce to the Family Court. Following that, the Court sets a date for the first hearing of the case. The applicant spouse must provide the home address of the other spouse in order for the notice to be delivered. The respondent – namely, the spouse against whom the divorce is filed – has the right not to appear to the first hearing. In case the respondent doesn’t appear, the Court will issue the divorce in their absence. The applicant’s lawyer will then prepare an affidavit of the facts and file it on the set date of the second hearing.
The Cyprus lawyers of Michael Chambers & Co. LLC are able to help you with all procedures needed to file for a divorce under the Cypriot law and we will discuss in confidence all matters that are needed to be taken care of. Contact us for details.
In the case where the respondent does appear at the first hearing and is in agreement with the divorce, then the Court will grant the divorce. In both cases, the Court issues a divorce instantly and the certificate takes a few weeks to be issued. On the contrary, if the respondent objects to the divorce, the procedure lasts longer. After the first hearing, the respondent must file a statement of defence to the divorce application to state their case. The exact time depends on the facts disputed in each case.
The spouses who conducted a civil marriage follow the simple above-mentioned procedure when they wish to dissolve it. When filing the divorce petition, the applicant must also present to the Court the marriage certificate. In cases where both parties agree, it usually takes about one month to receive the divorce certificate.
The Cyprus Family Courts have the legal power to dissolve religious marriages as well. Three months prior to filing a petition for divorce, the applicant must request a ‘religious divorce’ from the Bishop. Traditionally, the Bishop will attempt to reconcile the couple before finally issuing the divorce.
However, nowadays, the effort for reconciliation rarely takes place as it is considered futile. The ‘religious divorce’ is usually requested if the applicant wishes to remarry in a religious ceremony.
If you married in Cyprus or abroad and either you or spouse has been living in Cyprus for at least 3 months, you can file a petition of divorce. Our family lawyers can follow up with your case and start the procedure of divorce. Contact us at email@example.com
Grounds for Divorce or Dissolution of a marriage
The spouses wishing to dissolve their marriage must declare the reasons which led their marital relationship to an irretrievable breakdown. An ‘irretrievable breakdown’ may include some of the following:
- Abusive, violent or other repetitive indecent behaviour
- Unjustified abandonment for two years
- A continuous separation for a period of four years
- Imprisonment of the spouse for more than seven years
- Insanity continuing for at least three years
- Change of one’s religion
- Gender reassignment of either spouse
- Refusal of the spouse to have children
- Inability to execute the marital duties
- One of the spouses declared dead or missing
All of these may consequently lead to the dissolution of a marriage whether a civil marriage or a religious one.
Cyprus and International Divorce or Dissolution of a marriage
According to the Family Courts Act of 1990, Cyprus Family Courts have jurisdiction to issue a divorce between two spouses who may not live in Cyprus. Whether the marriage was registered in Cyprus or abroad is irrelevant. The Court requires at least one of the spouses to be residing in Cyprus for at least three months prior to filing for a dissolution of a marriage. The applicant must also provide the home or work address of the respondent to serve the papers through a bailiff.
If the respondent lives abroad, the applicant must apply to the Court for permission to serve abroad before the procedure begins. Divorce procedures cannot be executed online. However, the applicant or the respondent can direct their lawyer online, via email, skype or video calls, regarding the procedure.
Legal Consequences of Divorce or a Dissolution of a marriage
In case of a disagreement about the distribution of their assets after the divorce, the spouses must file another petition. Cyprus law specifies that a spouse has rights over the assets of the other when the value of their property increased during the marriage. The claimant must prove that they had contributed to such an increase in the value of the assets and property. When this is proved, the spouse can claim the return of their part of the increase from their contribution.
A spouse can request additional benefits from the other in exceptional circumstances. For example, in case one of the spouses is unable to secure an income or property at the time of the divorce. In such cases, they can claim maintenance from the other spouse.
The claiming spouse must demonstrate to the Court that the following requirements are met:
- The age or the mental health of the spouse does not allow them to pursue an appropriate occupation.
- The spouse has custody of a minor child, an adult child or any other dependent person, who is unable to take care of themselves or pursue an appropriate occupation due to mental or physical disability.
- The spouse cannot find a suitable permanent job or needs professional training, for a period of three years from the date of divorce.
When the ex-spouses have minor children, they must file a petition for their custody, in addition to the maintenance petition.
Written by Andreas Laos – Senior Advocate – Legal Consultant, Michael Chambers & Co LLC