Subject: Alimony of minor children
By: Pelecanos & Pelecanou
Subject: Alimony of minor children
The matter of alimony is one of the most important issues to be addressed in the event of divorce or separation of a couple.
Alimony covers everything that is necessary, among other, to the welfare of the beneficiary (the child or children) and their education. It is governed by the Parents and Children Relations Law of 1990 (L. 216/90) as amended. More specifically Article 33 (1) of L. 216/90, provides that parents are legally obliged to provide for their child according to their financial powers.
In most cases, the alimony is claimed by the mother since the children are (almost always) in her care and custody.
In any case, the parent/applicant requesting the contribution and payment of alimony, must set out in detail the child’s needs and expenses which usually include expenses like the minor’s food, clothing, medical expenses, transportation costs, and extracurricular activities in which the child may be involved. (English/dance/maths lessons etc).
The Court will determine the amount of alimony based on the needs of the child as they arise from the conditions of his/her life. A factor which is also being taken into consideration by the Court, is the standard of living that the minor had before the separation of his/her parents.
It must also be mentioned that the financial needs of a child are not static and that as the child grows older it is only reasonable that his/her needs will increase as well. In any case however, specific evidence must be presented to the Court that justifies the amount requested. Therefore, any application requesting the issuance of an alimony order, must not refer to and/or request excessive amounts which are unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate and which, in any case, cannot be proven before Court.
During procedures before a Family Court, the parents are obliged to disclose in full their true financial situation and/or powers in order to assist the Court in reaching safe conclusions. Both parties to the proceedings have the obligation to make a full and honest disclosure of their actual income and not just their expenses.
In the event that a parent does not make an honest and full disclosure about his or her financial situation, then the Court can, taking into account the nature of his/her profession and what others earn in the same profession, estimate that he/she has a higher income than what he/she claims.
Consequently, the determination of the amount of alimony is made after an objective assessment of the needs of the child (or children), the financial situation of the parents and their ability to contribute to the amount that is considered reasonable for this purpose.
Further to the above, what also needs to be noted is the fact that there is the possibility to amend an already issued alimony order.
The principles that must apply in order for an alimony order to be amended have been examined through a number of cases. The article that regulates the amendment of an existing alimony order is Article 38 of the Parents and Children Relations Law of 1990 (L. 216/90) as it has been amended, which provides the following:
«If the circumstances/conditions of the already issued alimony order have changed after the decision/order has been made/issued, the Court may amend its decision or, order the termination of the alimony contribution».
Article 38 of L. 216/90 has been interpreted in a number of cases such as Christodoulou v. Christodoulou (1993) 1 A.A.D. 195, Aristidou v. Chrysanthou (1994) 711, Dimitriou N. Perdiou (2005) 1 A.A.D 1418 and others. The case law has established that only facts which arise after the issuance of the originally issued order may be taken into account for revision of the existing order. It is the change in conditions that makes it possible for the original decision/order to be amended. This means that any of the parties subject to the original alimony order, may apply for an upward or downward modification of the amount of alimony, or even seek to terminate the alimony contribution altogether. The applicant requesting the amendment/modification of the original order has the burden of proving that the terms and/or conditions and/or circumstances of the existing alimony order have changed so that it is necessary for the Court to amend it.
Moreover, and pursuant to Article 38 (2) of the Parents and Children Relations Law of 1990 (L. 216/90), the amount of alimony is automatically increased by ten percent (10%) per period of two (2) years.
The Court may, at the request of the party who is paying the alimony contribution, order that the automatic increase is not applied and / or its amount to be reduced. In case of submission of such an application, the obligation to pay an increased amount can be suspended.
In conclusion, the issuance of an alimony order means that the parent against whom the order is directed, is obliged to pay at the time the said order specifies. In case he fails to do so, then measures can be taken for disobedience of a court order that could also carry the sentence of imprisonment.