Jamaica Divorce Law

What are the Divorce Laws in Jamaica?

Divorce in Jamaica is often considered the last resort before the irrevocable differences lead to the dissolution of the marriage between parties before the Supreme Court of the country. It is necessary to remain eligible for divorce, follow all processes and seek counsel before filing the initial petition for divorce in Jamaica.

Grounds for Divorce in Jamaica

To acquire a divorce in the country of Jamaica, the spouses must have valid grounds. The only true reason to seek a dissolution of the marriage in this country is because there are irrevocable break downs in the marriage that cannot lead to a reconciliation between the two spouses. It is possible to seek marriage counseling and eventually reconcile various differences, but the grounds for divorce require that this is no longer possible. The two parties are unable to return to the marriage, and the break down is permanent. The Court will determine if the grounds are valid or not on a case by case basis.

The Separation Period in Jamaica

The general period for separation in Jamaica is twelve months. The two parties usually live in separate residences for the duration of this separation period. However, there are special conditions that can exist that provide the two parties to live in the same place but living separately. This period is another way to give the couple the opportunity to reconcile before the divorce process proceeds. Either through counseling, communication or by learning how to live apart, the two parties can eventually return to the marriage. If they do not in the end, the divorce will proceed.

Irreconcilable Differences in Jamaica

The grounds for divorce in Jamaica are a requirement to seek the dissolution of the marriage. Generally, these issues are apparent when looking at the couple. The two may not want to remain in the same vicinity or could have antagonistic relationships with each other. The waiting period of separation can provide the two parties with the ability to start separating the lives of each through property, other relationships and even assets and debts. Children usually end up living with one parent and have visitation with the other. If there are no means to reconcile, the differences and break down of the marriage leads to a valid divorce process.

Custody and Visitation

If the two spouses decide to end the marriage through divorce, it is important to consider custody arrangements and visitation rights. One parent usually becomes the primary or custodial parent with the other receiving visitation rights throughout the year. However, the two can come to an agreement for joint custody if all other factors line up for this situation. The agreement is key to avoid a nasty battle in the court to acquire more time with children or for monetary support. Lawyers hired by either spouse can explain why the agreement is beneficial before the divorce process starts.

Spousal and Child Support in Jamaica

In the country of Jamaica, both men and women can receive spousal support through the divorce process. If the person cannot live as he or she could during the marriage, support is often necessary. Additional factors include common-law relationships that can provide maintenance and support once the relationship ends. Through the Maintenance Act established in 2005, each spouse has an obligation to provide support depending on the needs of the other person. This application of support can also occur during the marriage after the divorce dissolves the relationship or within twelve months of the end of the divorce.

Each parent in the marriage has an obligation to support children financially. This is a requirement until the youth reaches the age of eighteen or if he or she cannot take care of his or her own conditions because of physical or mental disability or impairments. A child enrolled in college or courses can also receive support until he or she reaches 23. Along with the parents, grandparents can also provide monetary support. This is often a responsibility of the grandparents of unmarried grandchildren if the parents die if there is a physical or mental impairment or a disability.

Child Maintenance in Jamaica

The parent can apply for maintenance of the child through the Family Court in Jamaica without the need for a lawyer. However, if the person needs to, he or she can hire a lawyer and use the country's Supreme Court. The courts can help the parent through additional money for prenatal care and the birth of a new child. Reciprocal agreements for child support are also possible when one parent is living in a different country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will facilitate the enforcement of the maintenance of the child by court order and transmit the orders from Jamaica to the authorities in a different country. Follow-up is periodical and often necessary to ensure the other party pays the fees.

Delinquency for Child or Spousal Support

The party that is delinquent in paying support can suffer fines, additional fees and even possible jail time. The situation may depend on the person living in Jamaica or residing in a different country. Factors can change the process or require understanding because of standard delays that can occur. If the country is a reciprocal state, the other person will need to coordinate payment for support for a child or spouse in Jamaica. However, this is still possible in non-reciprocating states or countries. Delinquency may require an issued statement to the other location to initiate proceedings to have the person pay in whatever way is possible.

The Application for Divorce in Jamaica

The Matrimonial Causes Act requires eligible parties in Jamaica to have a marriage that lasts for no less than two years before petitioning the courts to dissolve the relationship. The party must obtain the leave of the Court if he or she wants to file within this two-year period when the marriage is already on rocky ground. The person must separate from the spouse and remain apart for the required twelve month period. The irrevocable break down of the marriage must also have proof so that the Court will issue the divorce after all other requirements are met.

The Filing for Divorce in Jamaica

The divorce petition is something the lawyer files in the Supreme Court in Jamaica. The petition served is through the petitioner to the respondent. After the petition provides the respondent with the document of the divorce, there is a fourteen day period that provides the respondent with the ability to challenge. Without this challenge, the petitioner can then submit an appropriate application for a decree nisi or the first order with the divorce process. There is no need for a hearing with the judge. However, the average time for this process is a period of six months.

Decree Absolute in Jamaica

The decree nisi is the next step in the divorce application. While it may take up to six months for the judge to grant this, another six weeks provides the person with the final order in these proceedings. This is the decree absolute. There is no need for a hearing with this application. It may take another two months for the application to reach a judge. If there is a contest to the divorce, the time can extend or require a hearing. The petitioner will need to prove the facts of the case.

Protection Order in Jamaica

Other factors can lead to a divorce between spouses. If one is suffering abuse at the hands of the other, he or she can petition the courts for a protection order. This is necessary when the person faces mental or physical abuse at home. The court has an obligation to grant protection because of the Domestic Violence Act for someone stalked or treated ill. A restraining order is possible no matter if the other person is targeting the spouse, child or someone else in the house. The court will grant the order to prevent the person from accessing and entering the house. There are additional limits that will stop the aggressor from accessing work, school or other locations to which the person may travel.

The Domestic Violence Act in Jamaica

The Act provides everyone affected by violence in the home with punitive criminal action against the aggressor. Penalties through the courts can issue a $10,000 fine to the aggressor along with up to six months in a prison. A married woman can seek occupation orders through the Matrimonial Causes Act with the Supreme Court. This would require the husband to leave the marital home or only have access to certain portions of the property. The limits placed on the aggressor can protect the wife for the duration of the order.

Getting a Restraining Order in Jamaica

When suffering through abuse, the spouse can seek the Family Court. The assistance offered helps the person fill out a form brought before a judge. The judge usually then grants an interim order to ensure the aggressor knows to stay away from the victim. The case then proceeds to the court for an actual protection order. This order explains the distance the aggressor must remain away from the spouse, what other terms apply and if he or she must vacate the marital home. Any violations of the order can provide the spouse with the ability to contact the police and have an investigation and charges started.

Division of Assets and Debts in Jamaica

It is important to know the differences between separate and community property in the marriage. This can promote the division of assets and debts between the two parties. The primary concern is if the assets and debts have the names of both spouses attached. The judge that grants the decrees and the divorce with the couple may need to consider these matters. Agreements between the two through legal counsel and discussion can also speed up the process without a challenge stopping the division of assets and debts. It is also vital to have itemized and listed items for all assets and debts related to each person or between the two.

Division of Separate Property in Jamaica

When the spouse in the marriage has separate property, he or she can retain the items. These are usually pieces of property that were never shared in the marriage or assets that are not part of the marriage. These can also include items acquired after the separation started or when the divorce became effective. Some may also include inherited property or assets and gifts received during the marriage that are not shared items. By keeping items separate from the relationship and maintaining the distance, it is possible that some property will stay separate no matter how long the marriage lasts.

Division of Marital Property in Jamaica

Marital or community property includes items acquired, earned or gained during the period of marriage between the two parties. This can include income, retirement accounts, joint accounts and even physical property or real estate. It is important to note which item is what to know if the division will require splitting proceeds through a sale of certain items such as real estate and real property. If the relationship runs through common law, all property of one spouse is his or hers alone. The property usually distributes fairly without any one person acquiring more than the other with marital property.

Requirements to Petition for Divorce in Jamaica

A divorce in Jamaica can start through a petition from either party as long as he or she is a Jamaican national and lives in the country at the time of the divorce proceedings. The individual usually must also remain in the nation throughout the twelve month separation period. The dissolution of the marriage can occur even if only one person wants to end the relationship. Special exceptions are necessary if the marriage lasts less than two years, but the long period to grant the divorce may lead to this requirement's satisfaction. The divorce will proceed through the commencement, the service, to the decree nisi and then the decree absolute.

The Last Stages of a Divorce in Jamaica

Before the two parties are no longer tied together through marriage, there are three additional applications possible. These are the substituted service, custody and maintenance and the division of property. The substituted service is when the petitioner makes the other party aware of the process and cannot give the documentation to him or her personally. The custody arrangements may take time to decide between the two parties and may also require the services of a lawyer to complete. Maintenance is through support to the other spouse that needs it and any children in the marriage. The division of property may require an itemized list.

The Need for a Lawyer in the Jamaican Divorce

The spouses in the marriage may need the advice and assistance of a lawyer when proceeding through the dissolution of the relationship. Lawyers in this country often offer advice and explain the process. The lawyer may also become vital if one spouse challenges the divorce and a hearing is necessary before a judge. The petitioner must prove the grounds for the process and give proof of irrevocable break downs in the marriage.

Hiring a Jamaican Divorce Lawyer

When the spouse determines that there is no possibility to reconcile differences, he or she may seek to hire a lawyer for the divorce process in Jamaica. The individual may need support throughout the dissolution and to understand how to fill out the paperwork or for substituted service and the division of property and assets.

Divorce Lawyers in Jamaica

Divorce Law Articles Jamaica

  • Factors of a Jamaican Divorce

    The dissolution of a marriage through divorce is possible through certain processes in the country of Jamaica, and the two parties may need to come to an agreement to use divorce as the means to end the marriage.

  • How to Obtain a Jamaican Divorce

    Jamaican law requires that with a valid marriage, termination of this process is only possible through the death of a spouse or with a decree of dissolution or the process of divorce.

  • Jamaican Divorce and Abuse

    Divorce is on the rise in Jamaica, but many may not realize that some of these relationships end because of abuse and the need to acquire a protection or restraining order to stop the aggressor from attacking the victim.

  • Jamaican Divorce: Whose Property Is It?

    Just as with the standard divorce process in the United States, a Jamaican divorce process has both separate and marital property between the two spouses, and it is important to know how to differentiate and divide the two.

  • Who Can Get a Divorce in Jamaica?

    When the need to dissolve the relationship arises in Jamaica, it is important to know who is eligible for divorce and how to progress through this process in the country.

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