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New divorce laws in place by Christmas

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Bills for the modernisation of the legislative framework governing family law will be brought before the House before Christmas, the House legal committee heard on Wednesday.

The bills in question pertain to changes in legislation for marriage and divorce, parent-children relations and the introduction of the amicable divorce.

Committee chair Nikos Tornaritis said that “family law reform is on the right track and on the right timetable,” adding he was confident about the “absolute cooperation between the justice minister and all committee members, regardless of party”.

Justice Minister Stephie Dracou assured the committee that in three weeks the revised texts will be brought before MPs after undergoing the necessary legal review, so they can be discussed on a by-article basis.

The bills would cut the time period elapsing between notifying the bishop of the intention to divorce and the registration of the divorce action from three months to six weeks, while couples will have the option to register the notification online.

However, this law excludes cases where the invoked reason for divorce is the absence of a spouse or serious mental illness. The bill introduces an additional exception for cases where the reason for divorce is domestic violence.

Dracou emphasised that the changes in family law are focused on a more child-centred reform, based on the best interest of the child.

She also told the committee that the changes are aimed at simplifying procedures, stressing that all suggestions heard during deliberations have been adopted in their entirety.

For example, following the suggestion of the Cyprus Bar Association, the same grounds for divorce will apply to all members of the public regardless of religion, or whether they have had a religious or civil marriage.

Another proposal adopted, she added, will permit procedures for several family disputes to be processed through the same application, meaning that a divorce proceeding would also allow proceedings on parental care, alimony, and property disputes to begin.

Tornaritis praised the cooperative climate prevailing among all deputies in the committee, underlining the “excellent work” done by the justice minister.

“We made a promise and we are making it happen,” he said. “In three weeks’ time we will have the revised texts and we will take these very important reforms to a vote, before Christmas”.

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