Family Law (Property Disputes) in Cyprus

The Family Courts of Cyprus have jurisdiction to resolve any property disputes between estranged or divorced spouses provided that the assets over which the dispute is about (movable or immovable) are situated in Cyprus.

Increase in the assets

For the assets to be the subject of the dispute, what is taken into account, is the increase in the assets held by the spouse defending the action from the time of the marriage (or on the prospect of marriage). Any increase in the assets after the couple becomes estranged (this period does not have to be the time of the divorce; it can be an earlier period where the couple started living separately) cannot be the subject of a property dispute.

As mentioned earlier, what is important is the increase in the assets. For example, if the spouse defending the action had, prior to the marriage (or the prospect of marriage), a house belonging to him/her, that cannot be the subject of the dispute. If, however, an extra floor was built on the house after the marriage (or the prospect of marriage), that may well be the subject of the dispute. The same applies for money held in a bank, shares, bonds or other movable property held by the defending spouse.

Any gifts made by third parties (such as parents) are excluded from the property in dispute. In relation to gifts made between the spouses, these will be taken into account by the court for the purposes of arriving to a just result.

The decision of the court on the portion of the increased assets to be awarded to the spouse applying for a contribution in the increase in the assets depends on the contribution made by that spouse. In case the applicant is a housewife who has not contributed financially, it is a rebuttable presumption that he/she is to be awarded 1/3rd of the increase in the assets.

Prenuptial agreements

It is to be noted that prenuptial agreements are not recognized by our legal system and they are therefore void. The parties can however, after the period of separation, agree on the way their property disputes are to be settled. Such an agreement is binding between the parties and has full legal effect as any other legally binding contract. A breach of such an agreement can only be tried at District Courts of Cyprus and not the Family Courts of Cyprus.

Order for the disclosure of assets

In accordance with the Property, Relations of Spouses and other Related Matters Law of 1991 (Law 232/91), in cases where one of the spouses is uninformed of the assets owned by the other, then he/she can file a petition to the court so that the court orders the other spouse to make a full disclosure of the assets he/she owned at the time of the separation or at any other time ordered by the court. Failure of that spouse to disclose such assets is contempt of the court and can be punished by imprisonment.

Time limit of bringing the action

It is important to note that 3 years after the divorce of the spouses, bringing an action relating to property disputes is time barred.

This article is given for information purposes only and it does not constitute legal advice. Please give us a call if you would like to book a consultation with a specialist in this area from our office. We would be pleased to assist you.