By Anastasios Tsanakas, Associate Lawyer at DP Law
Cyprus legislation, unlike most civil law jurisdictions, does not provide for a specific procedure for the mutual dissolution of a marriage. In Greece for example when both spouses consent to the divorce, they may sign a bundle of documents and the marriage is mutually dissolved.
In Cyprus, on the other hand, even if both parties agree to the divorce there is not such an option. The standard procedure, irrespective of any agreement between the parties, must take place before Cyprus Family Courts. One party (the Applicant) must file a divorce application and in case of an agreement, the other party (the respondent) simply avoids appearing at the Court or appears and states that he/she does not wish to file any statement of defense. Then, the Court will set the case for proof and the Court order is issued within a very short period of time, without any negative consequences to the respondent who failed to appear before the Court.
However, when the respondent does not consent to the divorce, he/she is entitled to file an appearance note and a statement of defense to the divorce application and in such an event the Court’s final decision is issued with a considerable delay. The total duration between the submission of the application and the issuance of the Court order depends on the time needed by the parties to draft and file their pleadings, the filing of any interim applications and of course the schedule and work load of the Court which will hear the case.
In both scenarios the Court order becomes final 42 days after the issuance of the order and provided that no appeal has been filed by the respondent.
The grounds for divorce which an applicant may invoke, in accordance with Cyprus legislation, include among others the following:
- Immoral, disgraceful or any other repeated unforgivable behavior resulting in serious deterioration of the marital relationship, which makes it intolerable for the applicant to continue to live with his/her spouse.
- An attempt against life, e.g. physical abuse.
- Final sentencing to a term of imprisonment longer than seven years
- Sexual incapacity present at the time of marriage and which continues for at least six months and including the time the action is brought.
- Persistent refusal to give birth to a child despite the other spouse’s desire and/or attempts.
- Separation for a continuous period of four years.
Generally, the applicant must establish that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and this can be established either through oral testimony or by submitting a written statement through his lawyer. The applicant may also invoke/prove that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the applicant cannot reasonably be expected to continue living with the respondent.
Moreover, with respect to religious weddings, an additional requirement exists prior the submission of divorce application. The applicant is obliged to dispatch a letter to the Archbishop with his name as sender. With such letter his intention to file a divorce application is notified. The letter must be sent by registered post and the right to file an application for a divorce in Court is obtained 3 months after receipt of the letter by the Archbishop. On the other hand, in civil weddings, the applicant is entitled to file a divorce application at any time before the Family Court, without any mandatory preceding action.
Furthermore, in order for the Cyprus Family Courts to have jurisdiction over a divorce case, at least one of the spouses, i.e. the applicant or the respondent, or both, must be Cyprus residents for at least 3 months prior to the filing of the divorce application. If none of them resides in Cyprus, then the Cyprus Courts do not have jurisdiction to hear the case. If only the applicant fulfills the above requirement and the respondent is permanently living abroad, the applicant is entitled commence proceedings in Cyprus but he/she must fist apply to the Court for the leave/permission to serve abroad. Upon issuing of such a permit by the Court, the Applicant may proceed with the service outside of Cyprus.
Finally, the legal consequence of the divorce decision is only that the marriage is dissolved. This decision does not affect any property disputes that may arise, any custody proceedings (with the exception of divorces granted due to the physical abuse of children) and neither does it entail an obligation to pay maintenance to the other spouse. All these are independent procedures, which can be brought before the Courts only by way of filing separate applications. (photo:pixabay)
This article is for information purposes only. For any ad hoc legal advice on the subject of divorce and any other issues pertaining to family law, please contact us at: +357 22 272360 or email us at: email@example.com