Pay up or go to prison, divorced men told.
Dozens of people showed up in court this week at the start of a new judicial process for alimonies owed, and dozens more are expected to appear in the coming weeks as cases are processed.
On Thursday, the first of those affected appeared at court in the wake of a Supreme Court decision stating that those who failed to pay alimony would be called to explain why.
At the Nicosia family court, some 35 divorced couples had been summoned to appear.
Eight men were issued imprisonment orders. One, who owed over e1/49,000 for failing to pay alimony for 14 months, and one was taken away on the spot and is facing over a year in jail, according to the law.
The other seven managed to get the necessary funds by 2.15pm, right before court closed its doors for the day. In general, most cases involve Cypriot men who owe alimony to their non-Cypriot ex-wives.
Over 200 people will have been called by mid-May in Nicosia alone, where according to daily newspaper Politis some 600 imprisonment orders were pending.
In late January, the Supreme Court's chief registrar Irene Christodoulou told the Cyprus Mail that courts were told to stop issuing imprisonment orders as they had piled up, though she could not give exact numbers.
Those orders had been pending since November last year when the Supreme Court ruled that the procedure used was unconstitutional.
Under the previous procedure, an automatic imprisonment order was issued on the strength of a testimony from the person owed the alimony. So the guardian of a child, for example, would sign a declaration in court stating their ex-spouse owed them alimony and would be granted an imprisonment order automatically. The police would then serve the order.
But as Christodoulou put it: "Someone can't be imprisoned without being heard first".
Once they are heard, those owing e1/4427 or more may be imprisoned for over a year, should the court so decide.
The minimum sentence is three months' imprisonment for those owing anything between e1/425 to e1/4171; five months for between e1/4171 to e1/4256; eight months for between e1/4256 and e1/4342; ten months for between e1/4342 and e1/4427; and a year or more of imprisonment for owed alimony of e1/4427 or over.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2012
Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company