Cyprus has not yet established provisions for uncontested divorce and hence even in cases where there is a mutual desire of both parties to end the marriage, the Petition for Divorce is filed in the Family Court on behalf of one of the two parties.
The Family Courts of Cyprus have jurisdiction to handle Divorce Petitions which concern couples regardless of citizenship, given that one of the parties or both, have been residing in the Republic of Cyprus for a period of at least three (3) months.
Dissolution of Religious Marriage
In case the parties have concluded a Religious Marriage, the process for dissolution of the marriage commences by sending a Notice of Intention to File a Petition for Marriage Dissolution (''the Notice'') to the competent Bishop. The competent Bishop is the Bishop of the place of residence of either one of the spouses.
It is important to note that sending the Notice does not in itself create any legal effect. After a period of three (3) months, the Petition for Divorce may be filed in the Family Court.
The Petition for Divorce is filed in the Family Court of the district where one of the spouses or both spouses reside. At the time of filing, the Petition for Divorce receives a date of appearance, which is usually between thirty to forty (30-40) days after the date of filing.
The Responding party (the other spouse/ party to the process) is informed about the existence of the process since a copy of the Petition for Divorce has to be served to them, requesting that they appear before the Court at the date and time which the Petition for Divorce is set by the Court.
In case the Responding party chooses not to appear in the process, then the case is set on another date ((approximately fifteen (15) days later)) upon which the divorce is issued. However, if you have been served a petition for divorce, it is best to receive legal advice before you decide not to appear in the process, as there is a danger that you may be burdened with the expenses of the process.
Additionally, the Responding Party has the right to appear in the process and state that they do not object to the dissolution of the marriage, given that the expenses of the process will not be awarded against them.
Alternatively, the Responding Party may appear in the process, in person or represented by a lawyer and file a Defence or even a Counterclaim. In this case, the process for dissolution of the marriage will be more complex and time consuming.
Dissolution of Civil Marriage
In the event that the parties have entered into a Civil Marriage, the process for issuing a divorce is shorter as there is no need to send the Notice to the Bishop and there is no waiting period of three (3) months. On the contrary, the Petition for Divorce may be filed immediately.
Dissolution of Religious and Civil Marriage
It is worth noting that in case the parties have entered both into a Religious and a Civil Marriage, the divorce can be issued for both marriages under the same Petition, however, the process of sending the Notice must be followed.
What are the grounds for divorce?
Ιn every case, there needs to be explicit mention within the Petition for Divorce, of the grounds upon which the petition for dissolution of the marriage is based on. Family Law in Cyprus provides that the following may constitute grounds for divorce:
- Serious breakdown of the relationship
- Continuous four -year separation of the parties
- Immoral behaviour
- Spouse declared dead or missing
- Final conviction of the spouse to imprisonment for over sever (7) years
- Violence and abuse
- Sexual incapacity present at the time of marriage and which continues for at least six months and up to and including the time the petition is filed
- Refusal of one spouse to have children
- Change of religion or religious doctrine
- Inexcusable absence for a period of two (2) years
Dissolution of Civil Partnership
Civil Partnership was established in Cyprus under the Civil Partnership Law of 2015 and now offers an alternative way of legal determination of couples, whether these are heterosexual or homosexual.
- Through a common written declaration of the Partners, which has to be made in the presence of two (2) witnesses (who have completed the age of 18) and before the Registrar, before whom the Civil Partnership was concluded.
- The Civil Partnership ceases to be in force after a period of sixty (60) days from the date of submitting the said common declaration, unless the Partners choose to withdraw their declaration before the period of sixty (60) days lapses.
- With a Court Order issued by the Court of the district where the Civil Partnership was concluded, which can be issued upon Application of one of the Partners and which is served unto the other Partner.
- At this point is important to note that in relation to the above, the Law (Civil Partnership Law of 2015) mentions that for the dissolution of a Civil Partnership through a Court Order, what is taken into account is the desire of any of the Partners. Hence, there is no provision for the invocation or necessity to invoke particular grounds upon which the dissolution of the Partnership is sought.
- The Civil Partnership is automatically dissolved when the Partners conclude marriage between them.
Note: The description of the above procedures and timeframes is indicative since these are subject to differentiation depending on the circumstances of each case.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.