Family Mediation and Property Disputes
Family Mediation is now a fact. With the enactment of Mediation in Family Disputes Law (L. 62 (I)/2019), family disputes may now be resolved through mediation. Such disputes include property disputes.
According to the Law, in case of separation or divorce in Cyprus, and given that there was an increase in the property of one of the two spouses during the marriage, the spouse, if he/she has contributed to this increase, is entitled to claim the corresponding share to his/her contribution.
Mediation in property disputes is an extremely crucial issue which significantly affects the rights in the movable and immovable property of the spouses. Although the Mediator does not express his own opinion, special care is required when handling such cases to avoid injustice to the parties. It is necessary in case immovable properties are involved, to assess the value of the property at the time of the separation and the time of its acquisition so as to determine the increase in value. The costs are borne by the parties together. The use of an expert family disputes is possible when both parties consent. It is noted that the costs of the expert are borne by both parties.
Also, where the Mediator has not received any training on matters relating to property disputes, it is important, so that the parties are not mislead, to invite an expert to participate in the process. Such an expert may be a lawyer.
One thing that a Family Mediator should be aware of, is that there is a rebuttable presumption that the spouse is entitled to one third of the increase in the estate; that is unless a greater or lesser contribution to the increase is shown.
It is noted that personal guarantees or mortgages tend to show that there has been a contribution for the benefit of the spouse.
Also, the contribution of the wife as a housewife who takes care of the husband and the children is presumed to have contributed 1/3 to the increase in the property.
Furthermore, in relation to the increase in the property, the following special rules must be observed:
- Increase in property means movable or immovable property acquired either before the marriage with the prospect of marriage or acquired after the marriage. Therefore, there can be no claim in respect of property acquired before the prospect of marriage.
- For the purposes of the division of property, any property acquired through a gift or inheritance (or the proceeds of disposing such property) are not taken into consideration.
Contrary to what applies in other jurisdictions, prenuptial agreements are not recognized as valid under Family Law in Cyprus. However, after the separation, the spouses can enter into an agreement to resolve their property disputes.
Such an agreement could also be a settlement agreement resulting from mediation. It is noted that, in contrast to the agreement resulting from a private initiative of the parties, the settlement agreement arising through mediation can be registered in the Family Court for enforcement.
The registration can be made jointly by the parties or by one of the parties with the written consent of the other parties.
The above information does not constitute legal advice.