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Last update: 19-02-2007
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Parental responsibility - Cyprus

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What does the legal term "parental responsibility" mean in practical terms? What are the rights and obligations of a holder of parental responsibility? 1.
2. As a general rule, who has parental responsibility over a child? 2.
3. If the parents are unable or unwilling to exercise parental responsibility over their children, can another person be appointed in their place? 3.
4. If the parents divorce or split up, how is the question of parental responsibility determined for the future? 4.
5. If the parents conclude an agreement on the question of parental responsibility, which formalities must be respected to make the agreement legally binding? 5.
6. If the parents cannot come to an agreement on the issue of parental responsibility, what are the alternative means for solving the conflict without going to court? 6.
7. If the parents go to court, what issues can the judge decide upon relating to the child? 7.
8. If the court decides that one parent shall have single custody of a child, does this mean that he or she can decide on all matters relating to the child without first consulting the other parent? 8.
9. If the court decides that the parents shall have joint custody of a child, what does this mean in practice? 9.
10. To which court or authority should I turn if I want to lodge an application on parental responsibility? Which formalities must be respected and which documents shall I attach to my application? 10.
11. Which procedure applies in these cases? Is an emergency procedure available? 11.
12. Can I obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure? 12.
13. Is it possible to appeal against a decision on parental responsibility? 13.
14. In certain cases, it may be necessary to apply to a court or another authority to have a decision on parental responsibility enforced. Which procedure applies in such cases? 14.
15. What should I do to have a decision on parental responsibility that is issued by a court in another Member State recognised and enforced in Cyprus? Which procedure applies in these cases? 15.
16. To which court should I turn to oppose the recognition of a decision on parental responsibility issued by a court in another Member State? Which procedure applies in these cases? 16.
17. Which is the applicable law in a proceeding on parental responsibility where the child or the parties do not live in Cyprus or are of different nationalities? 17.

 

1. What does the legal term "parental responsibility" mean in practical terms? What are the rights and obligations of a holder of parental responsibility?

Responsibility for a child (parental responsibility) is the duty and the right of the parents who exercise this responsibility jointly. It covers giving the child a name, caring for the child, managing its property and representing it in any matter or legal transaction that concerns it or its property.

2. As a general rule, who has parental responsibility over a child?

As a general rule, it is the child's parents who have parental responsibility over it, provided they are husband and wife and live together; if either of them dies, or declared missing presumed dead, or in the absence of one of the parents, parental responsibility is exercised solely by the other parent. In the same way, if there are other valid reasons why one parent is unable to exercise parental responsibility, or if one parent has no capacity to enter into legal transactions or has only limited capacity to do so, parental responsibility is exercised by the other parent. However, the underage parent also has custody of the child. In the case of an adopted child, parental responsibility is exercised by the adoptive parents. If a child is born out of wedlock, and continues in that status, parental responsibility is exercised by the mother, save where the father also recognises the child, in which case he also exercises parental responsibility over the child.

3. If the parents are unable or unwilling to exercise parental responsibility over their children, can another person be appointed in their place?

Yes. If the parents are unable or unwilling to exercise parental responsibility or if for some reason their parental responsibility is terminated, the Family Court appoints a guardian with parental responsibility. Guardianship is awarded preferably to a relative. The court also lays down the scope of the parental responsibility granted to the guardian and the conditions for exercising it.

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4. If the parents divorce or split up, how is the question of parental responsibility determined for the future?

In the case of a divorce or where a marriage is annulled or declared null and void, and provided both parents are alive, the question of parental responsibility is determined by the court. Parental responsibility can be awarded to one of the parents or if they both agree and simultaneously fix the place of residence of the child, to both parents jointly. The Family Court may divide the exercise of parental responsibility between the parents or grant it to a third person. In its decision, the court takes into account the relationship of the child with its parents and siblings, and any agreements of its parents on custody of the child and the management of its property, always bearing in mind the interest of the child.

5. If the parents conclude an agreement on the question of parental responsibility, which formalities must be respected to make the agreement legally binding?

There is no such possibility.

6. If the parents cannot come to an agreement on the issue of parental responsibility, what are the alternative means for solving the conflict without going to court?

The law provides no alternative means for settling parental responsibility other than court proceedings. The Commissioner for Legislation is preparing a draft law on mediation in family matters.

7. If the parents go to court, what issues can the judge decide upon relating to the child?

If the parents go to court, the judge can award parental responsibility to either or both parents, divide it between them, or award to a third party in part or in whole. In the event of divorce, separation or the annulment of a marriage, custody of a child is awarded to the parent with whom the child is to live. Custody covers notably the child's upbringing, supervision, schooling and education, place of residence, management of its property and its representation in any matter or legal transaction that concerns it or its property. The judge also sets the maintenance payments that the other parent is to make, and determines the child's right of contact with that parent.

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8. If the court decides that one parent shall have single custody of a child, does this mean that he or she can decide on all matters relating to the child without first consulting the other parent?

The rule is that both parents together must decide on every matter relating to the exercise of parental responsibility. However, if the court decides that one of the parents is to have sole custody of the child, that parent acting alone may perform the ordinary actions relating to the custody of the child, carry on the ordinary management of the child's property, or perform any actions of an urgent nature and receive any legal act addressed to the child. Furthermore, the parent who been awarded custody of the child is the one who makes the maintenance claim on the child's behalf against the parent who does not have custody. If the other parent is opposed to an action taken by the parent with custody, claiming that the action taken was not in the course of ordinary custody or of the ordinary management of the child's property, nor was it urgent, or that the other parent is generally not in a position to carry out his duties, the aggrieved parent may seek redress in court, claiming that the action was a breach of duty or misuse of parental responsibility.

9. If the court decides that the parents shall have joint custody of a child, what does this mean in practice?

When the Family Court decides that the parents are to have joint custody of a child, they decide together on the exercise of custody, in the child's best interests.

10. To which court or authority should I turn if I want to lodge an application on parental responsibility? Which formalities must be respected and which documents shall I attach to my application?

The court with jurisdiction for matters concerning parental responsibility is the Family Court. Applications are lodged with the secretariat of the Family Court, the trial date is set, and the applicant's lawyer sees to it that a copy is served on the respondent. If it is to be served within the country, the copy is served on the respondent by a bailiff. If it is to be served abroad, the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the service of documents abroad applies, provided the state at issue is bound by that Convention.

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During the trial of the case, written proposals setting out the claims of the parties are submitted and witnesses are examined in order to prove the allegations of each party. If respondent has been summoned legally and in due time but fails to appear in court the case is proven and tried in his absence. Before the hearing a report is prepared by an official from the Welfare Bureau in the area where the minor lives. Depending on the maturity of the minor and on how much it can understand, the court asks to hear the minor’s opinion insofar as its interests are concerned. After the hearing the court delivers its judgement which can be appealed against in the Appellate Family Court.

11. Which procedure applies in these cases? Is an emergency procedure available?

There are cases where, once the main application for parental responsibility is lodged, unilateral applications can follow. These concern issues which must be settled immediately, for instance applications for temporary maintenance for the child or for the withdrawal of parental responsibility, in which case an interim application for the temporary removal of the child can be submitted.

12. Can I obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure?

Yes, following a request to the Family Court.

13. Is it possible to appeal against a decision on parental responsibility?

Yes, before the Appellate Family Court.

14. In certain cases, it may be necessary to apply to a court or another authority to have a decision on parental responsibility enforced. Which procedure applies in such cases?

This is possible by applying to the Family Court provided that a judicial cooperation agreement is in force with the country at issue.

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15. What should I do to have a decision on parental responsibility that is issued by a court in another Member State recognised and enforced in Cyprus? Which procedure applies in these cases?

For a decision on parental responsibility that is issued by a court in another Member State to be recognised and enforced, an application may be submitted to the Family Court for registration, recognition and enforcement of the decision issued by the foreign court, provided the two states, i.e. Cyprus and the other Member State, are bound by a relevant agreement. The conditions for registration are set out in the agreement. The procedure is launched when the court registers the application by means of a summons accompanied by a sworn statement, in accordance with the Civil Procedure Regulations. Where there was no adverse party in the procedure under which the decision was issued, the procedure starts with a unilateral application accompanied by a sworn statement. When the application is registered, a date for the hearing is set which can be no later than four weeks from the day of registration.

16. To which court should I turn to oppose the recognition of a decision on parental responsibility issued by a court in another Member State? Which procedure applies in these cases?

To oppose a decision awarding parental responsibility, the competent court is the Family Court.

Once the application is registered, as described in point 15 above, it is served without delay on the respondent; if the person who holds the right wishes to submit a written objection, it must reach the court at the latest two days before the date of the hearing.

17. Which is the applicable law in a proceeding on parental responsibility where the child or the parties do not live in Cyprus or are of different nationalities?

For the Family Court to have jurisdiction to hear a case concerning issues of parental responsibility, the parties must reside in Cyprus for at least three months. The applicable law, provided there is jurisdiction, is Cypriot law.

« Parental responsibility - General information | Cyprus - General information »

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Last update: 19-02-2007

 
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