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Property Disputes between spouses and couples that entered into a Civil Partnership

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Property Disputes between spouses and couples that entered into a Civil Partnership

Legal Framework

The legal framework of property disputes between spouses and partners (as defined under the Civil Partnerships Law of 2015), is regulated by the Regulation of Property Relations of Spouses Law of 1991. These disputes are heard by the Family Courts of Cyprus unless the parties decide to settle such disputes privately by means of private agreements. In that event, any future dispute which arises concerning a private agreement for settlement of property matters, the competent forum will be the District Court of Cyprus.

Unlike popular belief, disputes concerning property relations amongst spouses and persons who have entered into a Civil Partnership are not interlinked with other processes such as the divorce or claims regarding child support and disputes concerning child custody. On the contrary, all the said processes (property disputes, divorce applications, applications for child support etc) are heard independently by the competent Family Courts of Cyprus.

Persons who have entered into a Civil Partnership under the Civil Partnership Law of 2015 have equal claims as spouses with regards property commonly acquired after entering into the Civil Partnership.

Upon dissolution or nullification of a marriage or civil partnership or upon estrangement, either party may file a property claim against the other.

However, for a successful property claim the applicant must be able to demonstrate that there was an increase in the other party’s property and further demonstrate that the applicant contributed in the increase of the value of that property.

The law creates a presumption which pertains that the contribution of a spouse is presumed to be 1/3 of the increase of the value of the property unless it can be proven by either party that the contribution is larger or smaller.

Time Bar

Any disputes regarding property relations between spouses or persons who have entered into a civil partnership must be filed within 3 years from the dissolution of the marriage or civil partnership or nullification of the marriage or civil partnership.

Do you have a valid property claim?

Each spouse or person who has entered into a civil partnership retains their rights regarding personal property which they had acquired prior to the marriage or civil partnership, unless it can be proven by the other party that they have contributed to increase the value of such property. Additionally, any property acquired by way of gift, bequest or inheritance cannot be claimed.

Claims against legal entities

The Regulation of Property Relations of Spouses Law of 1991 defines ‘’property’’ as any moveable or immovable proprietorship which was obtained prior to the marriage, with the prospect of marriage or at any time after the marriage, by either one of the spouses.

Until 2011 this definition had been interpreted by the Family Courts of Cyprus to restrict property claims only between spouses whilst any claims brought against third partied or legal entities had to be raised at the District Courts of Cyprus.

However, year 2011 marked a significant turning point in the area of property disputes as the Supreme Court of Cyprus ruled (in the landmark decision Perikleous vs Egglezou (2011) 1B A.A.D. 1015) that the concept of contribution in the acquisition of property or in its increased value, embodies a catalyst which deems a claim suitable to be heard by the Family Courts. The mere fact that the claimed property is registered on a third party or held as a fund does not differentiate its classification as a property dispute. Moreover, even in cases where spouses or persons who have entered into a Civil Partnership hold property by way of trust, the dispute qualifies as a property dispute which can be heard by the Family Court.

Nonetheless, the inclusion of third parties in property disputes is not unlimited and it cannot reach beyond inclusion of trustees of the property of the party against whom the claim has been raised.

Hence, in the light of the above it has been made clear that the inclusion of third parties such as corporations is not only deemed acceptable but also necessary for the crystallization of the percentage of increase in the property of the party against whom the property claim has been filed.

The landmark Supreme Court decision concerned the case of Perikleous vs Egglezou (2011) 1B A.A.D. 1015 which you can read in full detail by following this link.

Please not that the present only represents an indicative synopsis of the legal framework governing the area of property disputes whilst every case is heard and decided based on its own merits.

If you have any questions or require further legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.

Author: MELISSA FIKRET

 

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