Family Law in Cyprus and the opinion of the Children in Cases of Child Custody
- The Physical Custody of the Child, i.e. with whom does the child reside.
- The Legal Custody of the Child, i.e. who makes everyday decisions on behalf of the child.
- Communication with the Child, i.e. in case one parent gets physical custody, the other parent will be able to communicate.
- Maintenance of the Child, i.e. the parent who has Physical Custody of the child will wish that the other parent contributes financially to the upbringing of the child.
Family law in Cyprus when dealing with matters of Parental Responsibility is not adversary in nature but inquisitorial. The opinion of the children is taken into account by both the Social Welfare Services as well as the Family Court.
In the process of applying for parental responsibility, there is no element of confrontation between the parties. It is a process of examination, where the ultimate purpose is to serve the welfare and interests of the minor.
As has been at times reiterated by the Cyprus Family Courts:
The highest principle that the Court should apply in such cases is the welfare of the minor
Appointing the Social Welfare Services
Preparation of an official report by the Social Welfare Services is mandatory before a judgement is issued on matters affecting Parental Responsibility. The report must provide the necessary information to the Cyprus Family Court, in order to assist the court in reaching its decision.
Under the Family Law in Cyprus, whenever an application is made to the court relating to the children then the Court must appoint the Social Welfare Services.
The Social Welfare Services investigate as fully as possible all the circumstances relating to the proposed order for the purpose of safeguarding the interests of the minors before the Court. Furthermore, they must file their report to the Court.
The duties of the Social Welfare Services under the Family Law in Cyprus
Under the Family Law in Cyprus, the Social Welfare Services must conduct an inquiry into the matters concerning any assertion made in the application or which are related to such application. This is in case, in the opinion of the Social Welfare Services, these matters may assist the Court in deciding whether the applicant will be awarded physical custody of the children.
The Social Welfare Office may also conduct an interview of the applicant or the respondent (or any other person mentioned in the application) for the purposes of filing this report. The persons interviewed include the children.
The Report prepared, must explain the basis upon which those recommendations have been made, including the reasons for and against those recommendations.
Duties of the Court
In the context of the procedure carried out by the court, it is the duty of the court to ensure that such a report, prepared by the Social Welfare Services is filed to it. Without it, it cannot decide on the physical custody and parental care of the minor. In the book Bromley’s Family Law, 10th Edn, page 490, it is stated that:
Once appointed reporters or welfare officers are generally expected to investigate the circumstances of the child or children concerned and the important figures in their lives with a view to providing the court with factual information on which to make a decision.
The Court will also conduct an interview of the children. Family Law in Cyprus makes it obligatory to take the minor’s opinion if its maturity makes it possible to form an opinion. This is significant given that it reveals the child’s happiness and progress.
As the child grows older and becomes more independent, then its opinion becomes more important.
Irrespective that it is at the age of 18 that a person is totally free, freedom is part of a person’s personality even at a younger age when he or she is able to form an opinion. The fact that the performance of the children at school is low, does not mean that they cannot form an opinion – provided of course that they have a good upbringing and development.
This article is given for information purposes only and it does not constitute legal advice. For further information and advice please contact Mrs. Maria Skarpari at email@example.com or Mr. Evripides Hadjinestoros at firstname.lastname@example.org.