Significant amendments were introduced to the existing legislation governing divorce and other family matters in Cyprus, aiming to simplify and modernize the judicial proceedings.
The most innovative amendment is the introduction of an application for divorce by consent. Such application can be filed after a period of at least six months from the date of the marriage. Where the parties have minor children, such order will only be granted by the Court if the parties have submitted a copy of a Court order which regulates the matters of custody and communication with the children or an application with which the parties mutually seek the issuance of a Court order regulating those matters, which will be dealt with in the same hearing.
The period of separation for a relationship to be deemed as irreparably broken down is reduced from four years to only two years. This period is not deemed to be affected by short periods of reconciliation as an effort to restore the relationship between the spouses which in total does not exceed three months.
The grounds for divorce are now confined to:
A single application, including interim applications, can now by law be filed addressing matters of custody, child support, family housing, and the use of movable property. In cases where the territorial jurisdiction of Family Courts may differ, all related applications can be brought before a single judge upon application of one of the parties, if such is deemed to best serve the interests of justice. Further, an order can be made to include information on the financial position of the parties in cases in which the Social Welfare Services are involved, in order to provide the Court with a relevant report.
Further, Family Courts can issue an interim order regulating any of the above matters on their own motion and if the presiding judge finds that it is in the child’s best interest, he or she may even order the provision of counselling or psychological support to a child, without requiring the parents' consent and making an order as to which of the parents will cover such costs.
Also, the Court can issue an order extending the period of exclusive use and possession of the marital home by one spouse up to two years after the dissolution of the marriage.
Other significant changes were introduced aiming to simplify the procedural aspects in general, notably that divorce applications will now be heard by only one judge instead of three judges of the Family Court and the period within which a divorce application can be filed at Court is reduced to six weeks as opposed to three months as regards the notice to be given to the Bishop with regard to Greek Orthodox parties, to sufficiently deem that the reconciliation process by the Church has failed. Such notice is not required in case of violence against the spouse and/or the children or the disappearance of the spouse, provided that a relevant complaint is lodged with the Police or the Social Welfare Services and a relevant certificate can be adduced to substantiate this.
The changes effected are most welcome, reflecting the needs of society and significantly minimizing adjudication.
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