Divorce Law in Trinidad and Tobago
With over 2000 Divorces granted in Trinidad and Tobago in 2010, this article presents an introduction to the divorce process as it relates to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Family Court was opened on May 17th 2004 as an experimental project to develop, implement and evaluate alternative approaches and improve services to citizens seeking help from the judiciary in dealing with family disputes.
By far most of the matters being brought before the court have been divorce matters. For the period 2009-2010 there were Two thousand four hundred and forty four (2444) divorces granted in Trinidad and Tobago, in 2010-2011 there were Two thousand eight hundred and fifty seven (2857) divorces filed and Two thousand one hundred and eighty nine (2189) divorces granted by comparison, relatively few proceedings for judicial separation and nullity were brought in the Trinidad & Tobago courts.
It begs the question; how can I get a divorce in Trinidad and Tobago?
The Courts Jurisdiction
The Trinidad Family Court does not have the right to deal with a personís matrimonial affairs merely because that person is a Trinidadian citizen or is present in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. The position is governed by the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act 1972. (Herein after referred to as the Act) Trinidad & Tobago Courts have jurisdiction to hear a divorce suit only where either of the parties to the marriage :
a) Is domiciled in Trinidad and Tobago on the date when the proceedings are begun or
b) Was habitually resident in Trinidad and Tobago throughout the period of one year ending with that date.
What arguments can I use to get a divorce?
The Grounds for Divorce in Trinidad and Tobago
Since 1973 according to the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, there has been only one ground on which a petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party to the marriage, that is, that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
Notwithstanding this the court cannot hold that the marriage has broken down unless the petitioner satisfies the court of one or more of the five facts specified in section 4 of The Act, that is:
1. that the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;
2. that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;
3. that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;
4. that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to a decree being granted;
5. that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mr. Farai Hove Masaisai, Attorney-at-Law, Senior Partner at Hove & Associates
Mr Hove Masaisai, holds a law degree from Huddersfield University UK, he also read law at London Bloomsbury at the College of Law of England and Wales, where he was awarded a post graduate diploma in legal practice; He was further awarded a Masters of Sports Law Degree from The Nottingham Law School and is a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Law Association and the British Association for Sport and the law
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.