Marriage, divorce, and child custody in Cyprus are governed by the Civil Code which comprises the Family Law. The act provides for all the legal requirements both Cypriot citizens and foreigners who reside here can get married or divorced in this country must comply with. You can rely on our divorce lawyer in Cyprus if you need support in starting the procedures for terminating your marriage.
Below, our lawyers in Cyprus explain the main procedures you can use if you want to obtain a divorce in this country.
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The Cypriot legislation for divorce proceedings
Cyprus enabled the Marriage Law in 2003 which divided divorce in Cyprus based on the date of marriage: before or after 2003. For marriages registered before 2003, divorce proceedings will be regulated by the Cypriot Family Courts Law. For marriages registered after 2003, marriage dissolution will be regulated by the Marriage Law. It can also be referred to as the Divorce Law in Cyprus.
The Cypriot Civil Law does not acknowledge the term “legal separation”. Marriage annulment may be enforced by the Family Court in Cyprus, provided the application is submitted within three years from the registration. The particularity of Cyprus when it comes to divorce is that here the concept of legal separation does not exist. This means that there is no minimum period of time during which the spouses can live apart in order to be granted a divorce. If you need guidance on divorce in Cyprus, it can be obtained quite simply from our specialists.
What are the main grounds for divorce in Cyprus?
According to the legislation the following grounds are taken into consideration when filing for divorce in Cyprus:
- the breakdown of the martial relationship,
- four years of continuous separation,
- the absence of one of the spouses for two or more years,
- the imprisonment of one the spouses,
- separation for five years,
- a violent behavior,
- an immoral behavior.
Considering the difficulties arising from the application for divorce with ecclesiastical courts and family courts as well, couples are advised to ask for the legal advice of a law firm in Cyprus before commencing the procedure.
Types of divorce procedures in Cyprus
Cyprus is an orthodox country which is why divorce proceedings depend on whether the couple got married in church and/or through the civil procedure, according to the Cyprus Divorce Law .
In the case of church marriages, divorce cannot take place right away or under any circumstance, but only if one of spouses has left the marital home or based on grounds of insanity. Even if these grounds can also be invoked in the case of a civil divorce, the difference resides in the time in which the rightful party has the right to file for divorce.
In the case of marriages celebrated in church, a notice of intent of divorce must be filed with the Bishop. After 3 months from sending the notice, the spouse can file for divorce.
In the case of civil divorce proceedings in a court of law, the application can be filed any time a spouse feels he or she feels to be wronged.
Our Cypriot litigation lawyers advise to take legal action when asking for a divorce, as only the documents issued by a court instance are legally binding and enable a person to remarry. However, the same person can also send the above-mentioned notice with the Bishop, if he/he wants to.
With a broad range of legal services as well as essential legal support and counseling we can help if you want to sell or buy a property in Cyprus. Our team of real estate and property law specialists can help is at your service with dedicated support in these matters.
What are the divorce proceedings in Cyprus?
When starting a divorce procedure in Cyprus, spouses are required to file a petition with a cleric in one of the spouses’ residential area. The cleric would usually try to reconcile the couple before starting the separation proceedings, but nowadays this practice is less common. After filing the petition, the cleric will send both spouses a notification from the church stating the divorce procedures must be began by the ecclesiastical court. Once the notice is received, the couple must wait three months before submitting their petition with the Cypriot Family Court. The Family Court will decide in the following divorce issues:
- dissolution of marriages celebrated in churches,
- dissolution of a religious marriage provided that the dissolution does not fall under the regulations of the Family Courts of the Religious Groups,
- dissolution of civil marriages,
- family issues such as child custody, maintenance and division of property.
Steps to getting a divorce in Cyprus
Terminating a marriage is never simple, however, once a person decides to file for divorce, the following steps need to be taken:
- filing the application for divorce with the Family Court of Law;
- court meetings are then settled, however, during the first stages the parties do not need to appear before the judge, only they lawyers need to;
- based on the evidence submitted, a divorce order will be issued;
- after the issuance of the divorce order is issued, the hearings will take place;
- the last stage is the approval of the divorce order and the recognition of the termination of the marriage.
If you need legal representation in court, our attorneys in Cyprus are at your service. We can handle the preparation of the documents and ensure court representation in order to help you terminate this phase of your life as soon as possible and without any complications.
It should also be noted that a marriage can be ended by mutual divorce (case in which the procedure is less strenuous), but also through litigation. You can rely on us for more information on the Cyprus Divorce Law.
Other aspects that can be handled during a divorce in Cyprus
Child custody, maintenance and division of assets are also matters that are handled during a divorce in Cyprus.
In the case of child custody, the judge will always have the best interest of the minor children in mind and will rule in favor of the parent who can take care of them best. However, the other parent will also have the obligation of looking after and getting involved in the rearing of the minors until they reach adulthood.
When it comes to the division of assets, the court will decide only on the properties and assets held or obtained in a joint effort by the spouses, and not on those who have been acquired separately by each party. An useful information is that if a prenuptial agreement has been signed, the court will rule based on the its content. Also, if the parties reach an agreement before ending the marriage in court, the judge will respect the conditions of the respective document.
Our Cypriot lawyers can help you draft prenuptial contracts if you are planning to get married and want to ensure protection of the assets you obtained before marriage. Our lawyers can also advise on marriage in Cyprus, if you are a US citizen, including the required paperwork and the procedure to be followed. All documents need to be provided in English. Please mind that you will also need an appointment with the marriage officer which must be made at least 3 days prior to the ceremony. We can also provide more information on the Cyprus Divorce Law.
Consequences of divorce in Cyprus
Getting separated in Cyprus will trigger a series of consequences of legal nature. Once the proceedings are completed and the sentence is granted by the judge, here are the main aspects to consider:
- one or both spouses will be entitled to child custody, while both of them will have to take care of minor children, in former marriages with children;
- if at the time the divorce is pronounced one of the spouses is ill or cannot support him/herself, he or she can claim maintenance from the other party (specific conditions must be met);
- all relations between the spouses are terminated, and they both can get remarried.
Our divorce lawyer in Cyprus is at your disposal and will explain your rights during and after the proceedings.
Claiming maintenance after getting divorced in Cyprus
If one of the former spouses does not have a stable income or cannot secure a place to stay, he or she is entitled to maintenance if one of the following conditions is met:
- the respective spouse is ill and is unable to work;
- the spouse has gained custody of a child, minor, or adult who is disabled and for this purpose, the caretaker cannot work;
- the former spouse has not found a job and needs training or qualifications to enter the labor market (maintenance, in this case, cannot be provided longer than 3 years).
If you find yourself in the position to get separated and need legal support, do not hesitate to present your case to our divorce lawyer in Cyprus. We will find a suitable approach that meets your needs.
Division of assets in Cyprus
If the ex-spouses acquired property during the marriage or before getting married, they should submit a petition with the court if they have not reached an agreement to share their property/assets. According to Cypriot law, if a marriage is dissolved or if a couple separates before getting a divorce and one spouse’s property increases, the other spouse has the right to file a claim with the court and ask for the return of the part that resulted from their contribution, if they have contributed in any way.
Even if it is recommended to reach an agreement before getting a divorce in Cyprus, this is one of the aspects left behind by spouses. In such cases, our lawyers can file the petition with the court on their behalf.
Filing for the division of assets in Cyprus
In the situation in which one of the parties has contributed to the increase of the matrimonial assets, he or she can file for a matrimonial property petition in front of a Cypriot court.
Cypriot legislation stipulates that the value may be increased not only through monetary nature. For example, the claimant may increase the value of the couple’s property by:
- couple’s children;
- providing moral support for the other partner;
- taking care of the household.
Divorce proceedings in the case of foreign citizens in Cyprus
Foreign citizens who have registered their marriages abroad and then moved to Cyprus can file for divorce if one or both of them have lived here for at least 3 months. In the case of Cypriot citizens who have registered their marriages abroad, it is possible to file for divorce in their home country without restriction.
The Family Law here establishes that Cypriot courts can rule in divorce procedures as long as at least one of the spouses has lived in this country for 3 months.
Child support and division of assets in Cyprus
The most important issues arising from divorce are child custody and support and the division of assets between spouses. Articles 6 and 7 in the Civil Code in Cyprus stipulate that both parents have the responsibility to support children. The Family Court will decide how parental care is to be exercised, unless the parties have reached an agreement. Parents may also agree on the place of residence of the children. If an agreement has not been reached with respect to child custody, the Court will rule based on the children’s best interest.
With respect to the division of assets, ownership is the main criterion in case of divorce. A Cypriot property may be divided between spouses only if the Court disposes so based on extraordinary circumstances.
How long does it take to obtain a divorce in Cyprus?
The procedure depends on several aspects. Among them, one of the crucial ones, that can lead to a fast procedure is when the spouses have already agreed on the most pressing issues. These are often related to child custody (where applicable), and the division of joint assets.
Another cause that can lead to a quicker or longer pronunciation of the divorce is whether it was consented to or contested. In the first case, the procedure can be completed in 4 to 6 months. In the other situation, the process may take longer.
If the marriage was a civil one and the divorce consents, the procedure can take no more than one month. Feel free to address our divorce lawyer in Cyprus for guidance.
Divorce statistics in Cyprus
Even if Cyprus remains a religious country, the divorce rates here have increased in the past years. If at the beginning of 2000, the divorce rate was below 2%, recent statistics indicate that:
- in 2017, the number of persons getting divorced was 1,932 representing a total of 2.20‰;
- in 2018, the number rose to 2,114 or 2.40‰;
- the most recent data from 2019 indicate that the number of Cypriot citizens getting a divorce was 2,308, accounting for 2.60‰ of the married population.
For more information about the grounds for separation and the Cyprus Divorce Law, you can also contact our lawyers.