By George Coucounis
Though many married couples separate nowadays, it creates serious and difficult problems relating to their children, the relation between them, the alimony, the place to stay, visits and the right of care. As a result, they resort to the Family Court to resolve these issues. Their personal differences leading to their separation, the lack of responsibility and seriousness and the absence of the necessary communication and tolerance inevitably have an impact upon their children, who become the victims of the separation. The problem is twofold, social and financial, since the parents do not separate in a civilized manner, thus fighting at the Court about how much each one will gain from the other or who became the winner, ignoring the obvious that they both have lost a lot more and their children even more. They should not forget that the children belong to both parents and their contribution for their care, maintenance and education constitutes a right and a responsibility of both of them.
The issue of the alimony of a child is regulated by the law, making both parents responsible to contribute towards the maintenance of their children, either underage or the adults who are in need of alimony due to disability, education or service in the army. The alimony is assessed according to the needs of the beneficiary based on his living circumstances and the financial abilities of his parents. The alimony includes everything which is necessary for the maintenance and the well being of the child and moreover, any expenses for his education. The measure of maintenance cannot be found in absolute numbers, but common sense and life experience are factors which play a role in understanding the facts that lead to the finding of the real needs of the children.
Two main issues were examined and answered recently by the Supreme Court in a case whereby the mother was claiming (a) contribution from the father of her four children by way of rent because the children live with her in the house and she undertook entirely herself to pay the housing loan instalments, and (b) contribution from the father because she had the exclusive daily care of the children, taking them to school, helping them study and spending time with them for their activities. The family had a housemaid looking after the house and the children. The Court assessed the alimony the father had to pay for their maintenance, but it rejected the aforesaid two claims, stating that alimony covers only maintenance needs and not capital expenditure and as a matter of principle, the care by the mother could not be valued as “services” for money.
The mother, staying in the house after her husband left her, could not be considered that she had undertaken any additional expenses relating to the maintenance and the wellbeing of her children, since she would anyway pay her contribution towards the housing loan. It was held, the fact that she undertook to pay entirely herself the housing loan instalments was an issue of a possible claim on a different basis relating to the capital expenditure for the acquisition of the house and of the property relations and disputes between the spouses and not to the alimony of their children. In the circumstances of the case, it was difficult, if not impossible, to divide part of the housing loan and the debt, in order to be considered that it is used in the form of rent in favour of the children. Even more, the difficulty can be seen from the point of view that the loan instalments are used for the payment of the housing loan, the main purpose of which is the gradual acquisition of the house, a lot later after the alimony will cease.
With regard to the “services” of the mother towards her children, the Court decided that such “services” offered by a parent to his children are considered as an obligation and a duty of the parents. Not everything can be measured in money, especially the care that a parent should provide for his children. Besides that, the assessment of such care in money terms is very difficult and inappropriate.
George Coucounis is a lawyer specializing on the Immovable Property Law, Leading Partner in George Coucounis LLC based in Larnaca - Cyprus
www.coucounislaw.com - E-mail: email@example.com - Tel:-+357-24818288.