According to Cyprus law the property that a couple obtained during the marriage or before the marriage but in contemplation of it is dealt separately from the divorce proceedings. This means that even before a formal divorce is granted by the court, upon application, the division of family assets can take place.
Jurisdiction of Family Courts in Cyprus
The family courts of Cyprus have jurisdiction to try disputes concerning the matrimonial estate both before and after the break of the marriage. The family courts of Cyprus have jurisdiction to try any case on the division of the family property which exists in Cyprus at the time of the proceedings irrespective of whether the couple resided or reside permanently in Cyprus.
What Are You Entitled To Claim?
There is a popular misconception that the matrimonial estate is split equally between the separating couple. In actual fact in matrimonial finance cases in Cyprus there is a rebuttable presumption that the claimant is entitled to 1/3 of the estate of the former spouse acquired during the marriage. The onus is then on the claimant to prove that he or she in fact contributed more than 1/3 to the increase in the value of the former spouse’s estate. The court will look to the contribution in the ‘increase in the value of the estate of the other side’ to determine what the claimant spouse is entitled to.
Property is divided according to the contribution of each spouse and the relevant time is that of the dissolution of the marriage.
Contribution to the increase in the value of the estate can be in monetary form but equally valuable is the contribution in the form of time spent or given up to look after children and the family home.
According to Cypriot family law the marriage does not alter the independency of the property in Cyprus acquired before the marriage. This means that a spouse cannot ordinarily claim against the other spouse property owned or acquired before the marriage and was not improved by way of contribution of the claimant spouse.
The increase of the property is calculated based on the difference of the value of the property at the time it was owned prior to the marriage with the value of the property at the time of the separation.
What assets are exempted from the matrimonial estate?
Τhe law dictates that the following are excluded from the matrimonial property ‘pot’ and as such do not form part of the matrimonial estate.
- Any property gained by donation, inheritance, bequest or other charitable cause,
- Any property acquired before the marriage by one spouse and its value did not increase by contribution of the other.
Agreements between the spouses regarding division of the property
Cyprus family law does not ordinarily recognize prenuptial agreements and it considers them void. After the separation the spouses may if they wish to make an agreement on how their matrimonial property disputed may be settled.
Disclosure and freezing of assets
The Court has wide powers to order the disclosure of the assets by the other spouse. Similarly the court upon the application of the claimant spouse, may issue freezing orders against assets in Cyprus and internationally including assets which belong to businesses of the respondent spouse. This is a significant tool in preserving assets which may easily be transferred or estranged.
Enforcement of judgments issued by a foreign court related to matrimonial property in Cyprus
A decision issued by a court of a foreign country can be enforced in Cyprus provided that the Republic of Cyprus has concluded an agreement for mutual recognition and enforcement of judicial decision with the country issuing the decision. Under EU law 18 Member States have adopted the Council Regulation on common EU rules on property regimes for international couples which clarifies which courts deal with matters concerning a couples’ property and which national laws should apply. The Regulation facilitates the recognition and enforcement in one Member State of a judgement given in another Member State.
Limitation period of the claim
Proceedings in the Cyprus family courts to resolve any dispute concerning the family assets can be brought within 3 years from the date of separation.
How can we help?
We can advise on issues concerning the matrimonial property and the best way of going about this. We can apply to the family courts to secure freezing orders of the assets, finding and tracing of property where you may be uncertain of the amount or value of the estate in Cyprus. We can oversee the execution of any agreement or judgement issued in your favour so that the assets you are entitled to are conveyed to you or sold on your behalf.
We are clear with our fees from the outset. We are transparent with regard to costs at all stages of your case and we bill in stages as we progress with your case. We provide an initial consultation for free where we advise you on your options and we provide clear steps or measures that can be taken, bearing in mind your particular circumstances.
Call us on +357 22 3361 00 or email on email@example.com for more information.