Mediation in family disputes was the focus of tense discussions among lawmakers on Wednesday who met to examine needed reforms to the island’s current family laws.

Members of the House legal committee discussed the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Law of 2015 and the Family Courts (Amendment) Law of 2018.

There were moments of tension between MPs and representatives of the justice ministry, the Legal Service and the Cyprus Bar Association regarding the specifications and training necessary for mediators in family dispute mediation.

Disy’s Nikos Tornaritis, who is the chairman of the committee, explained that the provisions regarding mediation have yet to be clarified, adding that the recommendations of the MPs were recorded by the representatives of the three groupings.

“We expect placement in a short period of time,” he noted. “Any reform related to family law and the family first and foremost must be child-centred.”

For his part, opposition Akel MP Aristos Damianou expressed his satisfaction that several of Akel’s recommendations have been incorporated into the revised texts, “but there are several issues” for which the party’s recommendations have not been adopted and for which Akel will make “very important amendments”.

“There must be a complete separation of state and church as far as family law is concerned”.

Meanwhile, Diko’s Panicos Leonidou said he was pleased that the Justice Ministry adopted his proposal that in the case of family disputes between spouses, the same judge, with an application, can directly regulate the three issues concerning parental care, alimony and shelter, with a temporary decree.

Leonidou noted that the majority of his colleagues approve of these opinions but a response is expected from the Supreme Court because it was mentioned that its opinion is needed.

Leonidou also brought up his proposal to reduce the reconciliation time from three months to six weeks, so that long delays in submitting a divorce request to the courts can be reduced, indicating that the church should have a say in the process of reconciliation and divorces in the cases of church marriages.