Lucy Loizou, a Partner at the firm, regularly assists individuals and foreign professionals with divorce and financial cases that contain Greek and/or Cypriot elements.
It is not uncommon for a Greek/Cypriot couple to marry in a Greek Orthodox Church. A question that is frequently raised in the event of subsequent divorce in England is whether the Church needs to be notified that the couple are divorcing.
There is no compulsory requirement to notify the Church of the divorce however, if an individual intends to re-marry in the Greek Orthodox Church, they must obtain an Ecclesiastical divorce in addition to the civil divorce. Without the Ecclesiastical divorce, there can be no future marriage in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Re-marriage may be the last thing on someone’s mind, particularly if they have just concluded protracted and costly divorce proceedings however circumstances may change in the future, so it is wise to consider this issue at the same time as the civil divorce.
If a person wishes to obtain an Ecclesiastical divorce, they will need to make an application to the Ecclesiastical Court. In the first instance, they should contact the Ecclesiastical Court and to speak with Revd. George Zafeirakos. He will be able to provide guidance as to the procedure to be followed. The telephone number is 0207 485 2149.
In summary, the person will need to do the following:
- Submit a short summary document setting out the reasons for seeking the divorce,
- Provide the original/certified copy of Decree Absolute certificate granted in the English civil divorce proceedings,
- Provide the original/ copy of the Ecclesiastical marriage certificate,
- Pay a fee.
Once the above have been submitted, the application will be considered and a date set for a short informal meeting before Revd. George Zafeirakos. Usually both former spouses are required to attend however if one party refuses to attend the divorce can still be granted in their absence and without their consent. Each case will be decided on its own merits. If it can be shown that there is no scope for reconciliation between the parties (which is usually the case bearing in mind that there will already be a civil decree of divorce in place) then the Ecclesiastical Court will not oppose the decree.
One point to bear in mind is that the Greek Orthodox Church will not allow a person to marry more than three times in the church and even this is only in extreme circumstances. However, if an individual has been married at a Register Office without a religious ceremony then this will not be counted.
If you require further information on this issue or how to proceed with obtaining a civil decree of divorce, please do not hesitate to contact Lucy Loizou on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0203 178 5668 who will be pleased to assist.
Lucy Loizou is a Partner with the International Family Law Group LLP. She undertakes complex financial and children disputes and has worked on several cases involving high net worth issues often involving an international element. Lucy is described in the Legal 500 UK Guide 2018 as combining 'international knowledge of different laws with excellent client care' and in 2017 she was described as 'always concise, thorough and accurate”