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Bill to protect property of divorced women

Human rights committee chairman Sophoclis Fyttis meeting with divorced women's groups

By Angelos Anastasiou

THE HOUSE human rights committee is finalising a bill that would introduce a mediator to help resolve financial disputes between divorced couples, committee head and DIKO MP Sophoklis Fyttis said on Monday.

Monday’s discussion focused on the issue of divorced women having offered their own property as collateral for bank loans made by their former husbands and which are threatened with foreclosure proceedings after the couple have split up.

Matters of power-of-attorney granted during the marriage, as well as pension and bankruptcy issues were also raised during the discussion, which the new bill addresses by introducing the concept of a mediator to settle property and collateral disputes.

According to Fyttis, the bill must be reviewed and authorised by legal services before it can be approved by the cabinet and submitted to parliament for voting.

“Banks are having trouble settling debts to divorcees where the borrower and the owner of property used as collateral are not the same person,” he said. “We have asked for consultation in order to find creative solutions, as is the case in Europe – the banks can’t just take a family’s home and liquidate it.”

“Of course, the issue also relates to the new legislation regarding foreclosures, which has not yet been submitted to the House. But we don’t want families to be ruined just because the father and mother have been divorced, and we certainly don’t want a family’s primary residence to be foreclosed just because the ex-husband owes money.”

Members of the association of divorced women and the Initiative against Financial Violence attended the session as did representatives from the association of commercial banks, the Co-op Central Bank, the ministries of the interior, finance, and justice and the police. Members of the association of divorced men were also invited but did not show up.

The matter of divorcee obligations has been raised repeatedly in the House, resulting in the enactment of legislation in 2006 governing alimony payments by former husbands to their former spouse or children.

“Alimony payment issues have been improved dramatically, despite some reported delays between alimony collection by the police and paying it to the beneficiaries, due to court involvement,” Fyttis explained.

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