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MPs vote for major change to family law

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Parliament on Friday voted in favour of amending the constitution on family law, broadening its scope on the cases the courts could hear.

With 49 votes in favour and one abstinence, the law allows family courts to try any family disputes, irrespective of whether they belong to the Greek Orthodox church or another religious group.

Provisions which set out the reasons for divorce to include those outlined in the church charter are scrapped. They are replaced with reasons set out by the law, instead of religious text.

As a result of the changes, three-member family courts will be scrapped, speeding up procedures, Panicos Leonidou, Diko MP noted.

Akel MP Aristos Damianou said this was an important step towards modernising the state. Now all citizens, irrespective of nationality or religion will have equal treatment and discrimination against women is eliminated through these amendments.

Similarly, Disy MP Nicos Tornaritis called the vote an important step that reforms family court making it child-centered.

In a statement later, Justice Minister Stephi Dracou welcomed the move.

“We have taken a very important step today since modern concepts such as divorce by mutual consent, equality between spouses and the normalisation of family relations have been adopted with these bills of a child-centred nature,” she said.

“At the same time, the bills help to speed up the time of adjudication of family cases, since it is no longer required to be heard by three judges but by one.”

Dracou said she was optimistic that with the consensual climate that was prevailing on the issue,  the remaining four bills that are still at the stage of discussion will complete the modernisation of family law will be treated similarly.

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