Marriage breakdown is a sensitive subject, but every year people approach us here at AFF to ask what happens when their marriage breaks down in Cyprus and where they can turn to for help. AFF Cyprus Director, Phil Robertson, tells us some of the main things that you will need to bear in mind should you find yourself in this situation…
You can request a ‘reconciliation period’ if there is a chance that you could get your marriage back on track. It’s designed to give couples time to see if they can work things out. Ordinarily, the serving spouse moves in to Single Living Accommodation for the reconciliation period, which lasts for a maximum of 93 days.
At the end of the period, or sooner as the case may be, either the serving spouse moves back in to the Service Families Accommodation (SFA) or if you decide to separate, your soldier changes his/her personal category status on JPA. A formal Notice to Vacate will then be issued giving you 93 days to move out of your quarter.
Getting back to the UK
If you decide that you want to get back to the UK as soon as possible, families repatriated following estrangement abroad have an entitlement to 93 days occupation of the nearest available SFA to their preferred resettlement area, or the balance of 93 days if the period begins when you are still in Cyprus.
There are of course potential knock-on effects in terms of schooling, allowances, medical care etc, so you should seek the support of your Unit Welfare Officer as soon as possible to ensure that you get the help that you need. The worst thing you can do is leave everything to the last minute, so try to do this as early as you can.
Unfortunately, there’s no longer access to legal advice in Cyprus for matrimonial matters. Instead, you should instruct a solicitor in the UK, and that of course attracts a certain cost. The Law Society’s website has a useful ‘find a solicitor’ function, and there are similar tools for Scotland and Northern Ireland (see useful links). Check the Forces discounts sites to see if there are any special rates available for Service spouses, and it’s always useful to ask friends for recommendations.
This is often a big concern. The good news is you are entitled to have your belongings moved to the UK from Cyprus at public expense if your marriage breaks down, and you can choose where your belongings are sent to. However, the serving spouse would not be entitled to Disturbance Allowance if your belongings are moved from Cyprus to your private address in the UK.
Anything you have in storage in the UK can remain there at public expense until the end of your 93-day period, but if your belongings need to stay in storage for longer you will have to pay for it yourself.
If you’re based in Cyprus and your marriage has broken down, these are just some of the issues you may have to consider. You should seek help and advice from your Unit Welfare Office or you can contact us at AFF Cyprus firstname.lastname@example.org
The Solutions Project – call 2596 3318