Parental responsibility as well as determining the amount of child maintenance for your child are among the most common and complex disputes which occur before the Family Courts.
Parental responsibility is a duty and personal right which both parents have towards their children until they reach the age of 18.
Parental responsibility includes deciding on the child’s name, the arrangement of physical and legal custody of the child, managing any property of the child, or representing the child in any proceedings. The best interests of the child should be used as the guiding principle when determining issues regarding parental responsibility both by the parents and the judges of the Family Courts.
We would like to note that parental responsibility regarding a child born out of a marriage is given to the mother unless the child is recognized by the father. In that case, parental responsibility is given to both parents.
In situations where there is a dispute between the parents regarding parental responsibility, then the Family Court can decide on matters regarding parental responsibility subject to an application made by either parent. We would like to highlight that the best interests of the child is the most important factor being considered by the Family Courts when required to reach a decision. As regards the best interests of the child, the Court takes into account the wishes of the child depending on the child’s maturity and age.
Furthermore, the Court has the power to regulate parental responsibility in cases where the parents have divorced, or the wedding has been declared as void, or the parents have stopped cohabiting, given that both parents are alive. If one parent has died, then parental responsibility is transferred automatically to the parent who is alive.
If poor parental responsibility is proven from one or both parents, then the Family Court can remove parental responsibility partially or in full from both or either of the parents. Either parent or the Director of Social Welfare Services can make an application to the Family Court in order for parental responsibility to be removed.
Parental responsibility ends for both parents when the child reaches the age of 18 or if a parent has died or has been declared as missing.
Determination of Child Maintenance
Determination of child maintenance by the Family Courts is done following an application made by the parents or the beneficiary or the Director of the Social Welfare Services. Both parents are obliged to provide financial support to their child who has not reached the age of 18, according to each parent’s financial circumstances. If a child has been born out of marriage and the father has not recognized it as his own, then he is not obliged to pay child maintenance except if the mother has made a recognition application before the Family Court.
However, there are cases where parents are required to provide financial support to their adult children as well. Providing financial support to an adult child is possible when the child is serving in the National Guard or when the child is a student. In cases where financial support being given to an adult child, the adult child himself can make the financial support application against his parents.
The amount of financial support is determined based on the child’s needs by taking into consideration the standard of living of the child prior to the parents’ separation. The child maintenance includes all necessities required for taking care of the child as well as any costs regarding the child’s education.
It is worth noting that the amount of child maintenance which the Family Court decides will be increased automatically by 10% every 2 years. However, the parent who will be required to pay child maintenance has the option of filing an application to the Family Court to suspend or decrease the automatic increase of child maintenance.
The content of this article is valid as at the date of its first publication. It is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you seek professional advice on your specific matter before acting on any information provided. For further information or advice, please contact Mikaelena Kokkinou, Associate, at our Nicosia Office, tel +357 22 447777, or email email@example.com