In 2015, we learned that Jamaica’s divorce rate has increased while its marriage rate has decreased. At the time of publication in January, there were 600 divorce petitions currently before the Supreme Court. But how does the process work?
“Divorce or the dissolution of a marriage, refers to the final and legal termination of a marital union. Divorce invalidates the legal duties and responsibilities associated with marriage between the parties. Where children and property are involved, the divorce process can include issues relating to spousal support, child support and custody, the distribution of property and the division of debt.” – Assamba Law.
Who Is Eligible For A Divorce?
To qualify to make an application for divorce in Jamaica, the petitioner must be either:
- A Jamaican national
- Domiciled in Jamaica at the commencement of the proceedings
- Resides in Jamaica and had done so for at least 12 months immediately preceding the commencement of the proceedings.
Grounds For Divorce In Jamaica
Petitioners are not required to outline the circumstances leading to the breakdown in the relationship. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only grounds for accessing divorce in Jamaica and this is determined by the court. However, the court is obliged to enquire whether the parties have attempted counselling and whether there is any possibility of reconciliation.
- Separation – The court will be satisfied that the parties have separated for a continuous period of 12 months even if they resumed cohabitation for an insubstantial time for up to three months in an attempt to reconcile during that 12-month period. The 12-month period would not have been interrupted in spite of such an attempt.
- Getting An Attorney – Under the new Civil Procedure Rules, divorce can be sought without an attorney, however it is advisable to get the assistance of an attorney or visit the Legal Aid Clinic for assistance.
- Filing for divorce – This three-step process includes filing the petition, applying for decree nisi, and applying for decree absolute.
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