In the case of separation, the dignified living of minor children imposes the obligation on both parents to provide maintenance according to their financial capacity. Determining the child’s needs is a matter of common sense, taking into account that living conditions and maintenance should not depend on any bargaining between the parents. The various amounts mentioned in the maintenance application are not strictly required to be proven, they refer to the time of filling of the application and regardless of the issuance of any interim order or the time of adjudication of the application. The alimony order may state its payment from the day the application is filed.

The percentage of each parent’s contribution to the amount the minor needs monthly for his living expenses is determined by their income status. There are always needs that, although they are covered by the parent with whom the child lives, it is not possible to separate them when they are common expenses of the family, such as rent, electricity, water, telephone and other related expenses, which do not exclusively concern the child.

The issue of child maintenance, or that of other dependent adults, is regulated by law, making the parents jointly liable. Alimony is determined based on the needs of the beneficiary child. Maintenance includes everything necessary for the maintenance and wellbeing of the child and, in addition, depending on the case, the expenses for his general education. In the event that the parent receives a 13th and/or 14th salary or the court deems it reasonable, the maintenance order may include a corresponding additional 13th and/or 14th payment.

The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision on January 29, concerning a dispute between parents regarding the amount of their contribution to the maintenance of their two children, considered the decision of the Family Court to be correct. The Court rightly clarified that the claims of the parties concerning the covering of the expenses of the two minors prior to the filing of the initial application could not be the basis for ordering any such remedy. Furthermore, it emphasised the maintenance order for the purposes of retroactive awarding of amounts goes back to the time of filing of the initial application and no earlier.

The Court of Appeal also adopted the judgment of the Family Court not to approve any amount for a domestic worker as necessary for the expenses of the minors because the mother did not work in the afternoons and thus had time to care for her two children. It was also mentioned that the mother being divorced with two minor children does not make the employment of a domestic worker necessary.

It also indicated as correct the Family Court’s wording of the general principle that receiving a 13th salary does not automatically mean that the father should be ordered to pay a 13th maintenance, as the mother claimed. It emphasised that it does not rule out examining whether such an order might be justified. However, the Court of First Instance in its calculations took into account the father’s 13th salary in determining his powers, as it increased his earning capacity, on the basis of which the amount of his contribution was also determined.

George Coucounis is a lawyer specialising in the Immovable Property Law, based in Larnaca, [email protected], Tel: 24 818288