An important dimension of Family Law is parental care. In general, this particular term denotes the right and the responsibility of parents towards minor children. Furthermore, it is exercised by both parents. That is to say, both of the parents are responsible for the welfare of their children, and at the same time they have the right to have a contact with them.
In Cyprus, parental care is regulated by the Law No. 216/1990. In case there is a dispute between the parents then either parent may apply to Court so that the conflict to be resolved. Cyprus jurisdiction applies only if one of the parties or both of them is a resident of the Republic of Cyprus for more than three months before the submission of a divorce application at the Family Court.
According to the Articles 6 and 7 of the Law No. 216/1990, each decision made by the parents or by the Court should focus on the best interest of the children. The judgement of the Court should respect the equality between the parents and make no distinction based on gender, language, religion, convictions, nationality, ethnic or social background. Additionally, the Court should take into consideration children’s wish only in case they are mature enough to decide for themselves.
In the case of divorce or separation, all the issues related to parental care are regulated by the Court following the provisions of Article 14 of the Law No. 216/1990. If the parents agree among themselves on matters related to parental care, then the Court does not intervene. In this point, it should be stressed that the parent who does not live with the children maintains his or her right to have a contact and communication with his or her children.
According to the Article 14, the Court assigns parental care to one parent or both of them if they agree. At the same time, the Court defines the place of residence of the children. In addition, the Court may allocate the exercise of parental care between the parents or assign it to a guardian.
The decision of the Court will take into account children’s relations with their parents and siblings, and also the existence of any agreement among the parents. As mentioned before, the primary criterion is always children’s interest.
Communication between children and relatives:
The Article 17 clarifies that parent who does not live with the children maintains his or her right to have a personal contact and communication with them. The Court intervenes only in case of an emerging dispute concerning the right to personal contact and communication between children and parents. The decision of the Court takes into consideration the welfare of the children by applying the provisions of Article 6.
Grandparents and other relatives have the right to have a personal contact and communication with the children. Furthermore, it should be noted that nobody has the right to prevent the personal contact between the children and relatives unless the interest of the children is not safeguarded.
The Court may regulate issues related to the exercise or not of the right to contact and communication between children and other relatives.
Revoke of parental care:
In case that one the parents does not respond to his or her responsibilities, associated with the exercise of parental care, then the Court may revoke from him or her parental care partially or wholly. The Court may assign parental care to the other parent or a guardian, totally or partially.
Furthermore, the Court might order a total or partial revoke of parental care from both parents and assign it to a guardian only in the case that other measures had not been efficient or to protect the physical and mental health of the children. The Court regulates the exercise of parental care granted to a guardian.
Change of circumstances:
The Article 20 stresses that the Court may transform or recall an order administering parental care. For this reason, one of the parents or the Director of the Social Welfare Services must submit an application to the Court. In addition to this, it should be proven that the circumstances have been altered since the date of issuing of the order regulating parental care.
Decisions issued by a foreign court:
A Court judgment made by a foreign jurisdiction is valid in Cyprus only if the Republic of Cyprus has conducted or is associated with an agreement for mutual recognition and enforcement of legal decisions with the country issuing the decision (Law No. 121(I)/2000). In case the country issuing the decision is an EU member-state, then the enforcement will be regulated based on the EU Regulation 4/2009 and the EU Regulation 2201/2003.