Factors to take into account
Challenges in resolving asset disputes
Monetary versus non-monetary contributions


The law concerning the division of matrimonial assets in the case of marriage dissolution in Cyprus is neither clear nor easy to resolve. It can, therefore, be seen as complex and wide. The main reason for such complexity is that every case will be decided on its own specific facts, which will vary significantly. The Family Court judges should apply the principles of discretion in order to achieve fairness in every case.

"Fairness" is the key word when it comes to the division of marital assets. The purpose is to divide the family assets fairly and not equally. This denotes that both partners must leave the courtroom on an equal footing and that there should be no unfair treatment with respect to each spouse's individual role in the household. Equality in divorce proceedings is an intricate and never-ending chapter in family law. However, it is important to underline that matrimonial assets are not simply divided 50-50 when a couple separates, unless such split is deemed fair by the court.

Sometimes, to achieve a fair outcome, the division percentage will defer from the simple 50-50 equality split. Nevertheless, the starting point in every case is that the principle of equality will be departed from only in cases where there is fair reason to do so. Usually, a fair reason to depart from a 50-50 split is where the residence of a child will be divided between the two spouses. The Cyprus courts are very careful when dividing assets where the welfare of a child is involved and would be unwilling to risk putting a child into worse living conditions after their parents' separation.

Factors to take into account

The division of assets in Cyprus is governed by the Regulating Property Relations of Spouses Law of 1991.(1)

As a starting point, the judges, in determining the percentage split for the divorced couple, will take into account the following non-exhaustive list of factors:

  • the specific type of assets;
  • the reasons for the assets' obtainment;
  • the time each of the assets were obtained – whether the assets were obtained before or after marriage, or even after the couple have lived separately but were not legally separated, plays a vital role. The exact time of the assets' acquirement and under which circumstances they were acquired is considered vital information; and
  • the amount of contribution to these assets by each party and under whose name they are registered or held.

Challenges in resolving asset disputes

In many cases, it will be extremely challenging for the court to determine the above factors and even more challenging to make a judgment based on them due to the different interests involved. Sometimes, the difficulty lies in establishing the real facts, taking into account the evidence provided by each party.

It is worth highlighting here that family law in Cyprus provides the security for married couples that matrimonial proceedings do not affect the property independence of each party. Each spouse will preserve their own property and, therefore, neither party will be deprived of even the smallest percentage of their personal assets even after their marriage and divorce.

Nevertheless, section 14(1) of the law provides that if the property of one of the partners has increased during the marriage, the other partner is entitled to and may claim the percentage of their own contribution.

Usually, one party's contribution to the increase of the other party's property is presumed to be one third, unless a higher or lower contribution can be established. This is where the proceedings become challenging and difficulties in resolving asset disputes are raised.

Importantly, an increase in either of the partners' property assets does not include property that they have acquired by way of a gift, inheritance, bequests or donations.

Monetary versus non-monetary contributions

The courts have accepted that a contribution may not always be of a monetary nature. For instance, the effort and labour that one spouse puts into the family or the family house, and the care, love and affection that they provide to the family, is sometimes considered to be a form of contribution to the increase of their partner's assets. Nevertheless, in order for a spouse to be successful in such a claim of non-monetary contribution, they must be able to provide clear evidence of their effort.

Such evidence may include proof of the duration of time that the spouse has spent staying in the family home to take care of the housekeeping, cook meals for their family or look after their children. Additionally, a party may be able to establish to the court that they have provided emotional support to minimise their partner's emotional trauma and stress. Proving this type of contribution to the court will be challenging and difficult for the spouse in question.

In other words, if the non-financial contribution of the "housekeeper" spouse enabled the "wage-earner" spouse to earn money, there should be no ruling that would put the housekeeper in an unfavourable position.

There is no evidence that physical support to the other party may constitute a contribution for the purposes of the law, but it is not an extreme step to say that in the future, the courts may be willing to accept such arguments. For example, a spouse who provides assistance to their partner with a disability in order to carry out everyday activities associated with independent living and/or to work should have access to a percentage of their partner's property assets.

For further information on this topic please contact Eve Karaviotou or Christos Kastanias at A G Paphitis & Co by telephone (+357 25 73 10 00) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The A G Paphitis & Co website can be accessed at


(1) Law No. 232/1991.