Indiana mom in custody fight faces jail time in Cyprus

Claudine Zap
Yahoo! News
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A custody dispute between an Indiana woman and her ex-husband in Cyprus has become an international issue.

In April, Marla Theocharides moved to Cyprus to be close to her two children, Katerina, 7, and Marcus, 4. The brother and sister have lived in Cyprus with Marla's ex-husband, Charis Theocharides, for more than two years. A Cypriot court granted Charis custody and Marla visitation rights.

On Friday, a Cypriot court issued a warrant for Marla's arrest for failure to pay child support, but she says she has no means to work without a work permit, known in Cyprus as a pink slip. Things are different back in Indiana where the court granted Marla custody of her kids.

“I expect to be arrested this week,” Marla told the Indianapolis Star in an exclusive interview. “I am not legally allowed to work in Cyprus until they issue me a pink slip. I have applied for it but have not received it yet.”

Marla married Charis Theocharides, a Cyprus native, in 2004. According to Indianapolis station Fox28, the couple later left Indiana and took their two children to Cyprus for an extended visit. Their relationship fell apart, and Marla returned with her two children, filing for divorce once she was back in the United States.

Charis filed kidnapping charges against Marla, which were eventually dropped. Even though Marla was granted full custody in Indiana, Cyprus did not recognize the U.S. court ruling, and demanded that she return her children, who are U.S. citizens, to her ex-husband. Fearing she would go to jail, Marla complied.

Now living in Cyprus, the 33-year-old says that her ex-husband thwarts her visitation rights, an accusation Charis disputed in an interview with CNN. “I’m the one that I go to the park and the swimming pools, and I get together with her, and she sees the kids,” he said.

An official with the the State Department told the Indianapolis Star that it is aware of "this private legal matter" before the Cypriot courts and is "providing all appropriate assistance and will continue to monitor the case closely."

To bring attention to Marla's situation, supporters have launched an online petition at and are holding fundraisers to help with expenses.