Cyprus Law: The Division of Property After a Divorce Settlement
Article 22 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus provides the right for any individual who is of legal age to get married. All family law matters are governed by various Acts and cases originating from the District Family Courts and the High Court in Cyprus.
The regulation of the property disputes in Cyprus is governed by the Regulating Property Relations of Spouses Law 232/1991 and also by equity & trust law regulations.
This legislation also governs the right of a spouse to claim maintenance against the other spouse after their separation or divorce under specific circumstances which are described in detail in the applicable legislation. The Cyprus family court examines the application made by the Claimant spouse against the Defendant spouse for the division of property using the below legislation.
Article 2 provides the definition of the terms:
- All belongings of significant value involved in the marriage.
- Immovable & movable property respectively.
Or any of the above were obtained before the marriage with the prospect of the marriage or any time after the marriage from either of the spouses.
The court considers contribution to be any kind of monetary contribution of either the spouses to the acquisition or the creation of the property and includes the care and the provision of the family house and any members of family living in the property, effectively supporting the Defendant spouses job or means of generating income.
It is essential to note that the contribution constitutes the most important element in the determination of the proportion of the share of the non-registered owner of the property.
According to the above mentioned legislation and the relevant principles which arise from the case law, the marriage cannot change the property independency of the spouse whom the property was registered before the marriage.
Specifically there is no cause of action that can’t be established by the Claimant spouse against the Defendant spouse for the property owed before the marriage.
At the current stage it is important to note that a confusion should be avoided between cases which relate to property that was obtained by a spouse before the marriage or for the prospect of the marriage and additionally, any property which was obtained or has been registered in the name of the either spouse before the marriage regardless if marriage later ensued.
The Claimant spouse could claim their contribution in the increase of the Defendant spouses property value after their separation. In order to establish participation in the increase of the Defendant spouse’s property value, the Claimant spouse within the marriage must fulfill the following requirements:
- Prove the effective cancellation or termination of the wedding or separation between the partners.
- Show the contribution made by the Claimant spouse in the increase of the Defendant spouses property value.
- Prove the increase of the Defendant spouses property value.
Essentially, the starting point is the ascertainment of the existence of any property assets at the time of the marriage, secondly the ascertainment of any increase of the property and then the source of the increase relating to the contribution made by each of the spouses.
According to Article 14 (2), the contribution in the increase of the property value is reasonably presumed to be one third of the increase of the property value unless a bigger or smaller contribution can be proved by the Claimant or the Defendant respectively.
The Courts in Cyprus have made a point to show in legislation that the object of greatest importance is the increase of the property value rather than the property’s original purchase value.
Article 14 (3) specifies that any asset obtained by either spouse via donation, heritage or legacy cannot be considered in the increase of the property value.
The current legislation based on the modern approach adopted by the Cyprus Courts and is clear that the above rule is subject to conditions and may not apply in every case; in order to determine whether donations will be deducted or included from the calculation of the divorce settlement is according to each case’s individual circumstances.
It is important to note specifically that financial assistance or any other help offered by the parents cannot be considered as a transaction which may create a cause of action which means that this financial assistance has to be deducted from the value of the property which is currently under examination.
According to the principles that arise from case law, the Increase of the property calculated is typically based on the difference of the value of the property at the time it was owned comparing with the value of the property at the time of the issuance of the divorce or at the time of the separation.
When examining each party’s contribution, the Cyprus Courts take into account the financial commitments of the owner regarding the property in question as a defense in favour.
It is important to note that the Claimant can claim through the Family Court application:
- His/her monetary contribution.
- Registration of the property or share of the property on his/her name.
- Return of the property or percentage share of the property value.
Moreover, it is important to note that the Cyprus Courts, while examining the claimant’s contribution take in to account the donations and their approximate value that the Defendant spouse has donated to the Claimant spouse during the course of their marriage.
The claim for contribution is limited to three years after the settlement of marriage or divorce and cannot be assigned to a third party except from either of the spouses.
The Courts may not award any amount as a contribution to the Claimant spouse or decrease the amount that he/she is entitled to receive in the following cases:
- The Claimant Spouse was convicted for deliberately causing serious injury.
- The Claimant Spouse abandoned the other spouse without reasonable cause.
- The Claimant Spouse behaved to the other spouse or the children in an immoral way.
- The Claimant Spouse was convicted for murder of the other spouse or any children involved in the marriage.
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