Family Law (Property Disputes) 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 that has taken place during the marriage (or on with 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, this asset 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 part 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 claiming contribution to the increase in the assets of the other depends on the contribution made by that spouse. In case the applicant is a housewife who has not contributed financially, there exists a rebuttable presumption that he/she has contributed the equivalent of 1/3rd of the increase in the assets of her spouse and the equivalent will be awarded to the applicant by the Court.
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 constitutes contempt of the court and is 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. For further information and advice please contact Mrs. Maria Skarpari at email@example.com.