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How Can I File for a Divorce in Jamaica?

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How Can I File for a Divorce in Jamaica? | Answered by Israel, Associate Writer | Gleaner.com Photo

The divorce process in any country can be long and tedious. Some places divorce takes place for less than honourable reasons, such as in the case of Kansas, USA; proven ill-treatment of a mother-in law is grounds for divorce (no laughing matter).

In Jamaica there is only one (1) reason a legally married couple can divorce. But more on that below.

Divorce Defined


Divorce is defined as the legal termination or dissolution of a marital union. A divorce between marital partners invalidates their legal responsibilities and duties.

The divorce settlement also includes the legal distribution of property and responsibilities to children where it is relevant.

The applicant for the divorce is called the petitioner and the other spouse the respondent.

Who Can File For A Divorce?


The following divorce proceedings are valid to:

  • Jamaican nationals (including foreigners married to a Jamaican)
  • Persons living in Jamaica at the beginning of their divorce proceedings but are not Jamaican nationals
  • Persons living in Jamaica for at least twelve (12) months prior to the commencement of the divorce proceedings.


Grounds for Divorce


Irreconcilable differences is the only reason for a divorce in Jamaica. The court will then recommend a course of counselling for the couple. The cost of divorce in Jamaica through private attorneys is approximately 75,000-100,000 JD while legal aid is 30,000 JD with a longer waiting period.

Note that when using the services of a private attorney, it is recommended to always check for consultation fees prior to divorce commencement.

The Divorce Process


A divorce in Jamaica is done in three (3) stages.

The

  1. Petition has to be filed in the court.
  2. Decree Nisi application is made after the proof of service is ready. Again, this will be filed in the court. And finally,
  3. Decree Absolute application is made 6 weeks after the Nisi has been granted. These documents will be filed in court as well.

The court will stipulate that the couple be separated for at least twelve (12) months without cohabitation. Even if the couple attempts reconciliation by cohabiting for three (3) months out of the twelve (12), the court still grants the divorce settlement.

Even if the couple live in the same dwelling but one partner has either moved out of the matrimonial room and there is no sexual relations or household duties such as washing, cooking and cleaning on the other spouse’s behalf.

Divorce in Jamaica can be obtained without the assistance of an attorney, it is not mandatory.

However, it is much easier (and it is recommended) as they they will:

  • Draft the divorce petition
  • Obtain marriage certificate
  • Lodge the petition in court
  • Serve the petition to the other person
  • Draft plans for the maintenance and support of children
  • Negotiate the settlement of property
  • Request that the divorce be granted without a hearing


Detailed Processing Steps of a Divorce



  1. Vetting of the petition before signing and stamping
  2. Approximately fourteen (14) days after the decree nissi is served unopposed to the respondent a divorce application is filed.
  3. Approximately six (6) weeks after the decree nissi then a decree absolute which could take up to two (2) moths before completion before the judge is submitted. This is the final stage of the divorce.


In the Case of Marriage Less Than Two Years:



  • Proof of marriage to be submitted to the court
  • State the special circumstance that justifies the hearing of the petition
  • Give particulars of any attempted reconciliation
  • Note if there is any possibility for reconciliation
  • If there are any children then their: names, age, date of births, arrangement for care, maintenance and upbringing should be outlined in the petition
  • Show a copy of the proposed petition


Delays with Divorce in Jamaica:


    The initial filing for a divorce may take a number of months before a judge may receive the documents for consideration.
  • If there are errors then the modified petition will have to join the queue all over
  • The process of the Supreme Court Registrar vetting the petition for error takes at least three (3) to eight (8) weeks.

    If the petitioner of the divorce lives outside of Jamaica then the route of an attorney has to be taken.

    The relevant documentation will have to be provided to the attorney depending on the stage of the divorce:
     Petition and supporting documentation
     Affidavit of service of petition and supporting documents
     The notice of application to dispense with hearing or decree nissi application
     The decree absolute application


Reasons to Anul A Marriage


A couple may also annul a marriage under the Jamaican law if:

  • Not conducted by a marriage officer
  • One of the partners was already married at the time of the marriage
  • The marriage did not have two (2) witnesses for the solemnization of vows and registration of marriage
  • At least one of the partners involved was under age of sixteen(16) at the time of marriage
  • The partners married are too close in ties or blood relations
  • If marital consent was obtained by duress or fraud:
  • One party was mistaken as to the true identity of the other party
  • One party is mistaken as to the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony being performed at the time of marriage
  • One party was mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony at the time of marriage
  • The parties were of the same sex at the time of the marriage
    Please note that annulment is usually more expensive than divorce which can be processed on paper alone. This is because an annulment needs a hearing.


I hope you find this informative, although I prefer if you don't need to use it :-)



Useful Links:


The following are some helpful links you may consider in this process.


  • Law Firm: Your Legal Advice Partner
    Email: Jamiacalawyers@gmail.com
    Tel: 876-348-5181/876-507-3059

  • Law Firm: Pearnel P. Charles ᴨ
    Email: pcharleslaw@gmail.com
    Tel: 876-922-4425/876-967-4520
    Cell: 876-492-8777
    Jamaican Fax: 876-922-9130
    USA Fax: 646-588-1977
    US Office: 202-241-4236
    US Address: 6000 Turkey Lake Road, Suite 112 Orlando Florida,
    USA 32819

  • Law Firm: Blair Foreman and Co., Jamaica
    Tel: 876-906-0272




References

  1. HG.org Legal Resources. 2018. Grounds for Annulment of marriage in Jamaica taken from https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/grounds-for-annulment-of-marriage-in-jamaica-41628
  2. Jamaica Gleaner.2012. How to Obtain a Divorce in Jamaica. The Daily Gleaner taken from http://www.digjamaica.com/divorce
  3. O’Connell, Caitlin. 2018. 13 Surprising Marriage Laws You Might be Breaking Right Now, Reader’s Digest taken from https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/13-surprising-marriage-laws-you-might-be-breaking-right-now/
  4. Your Legal Advice Partner. 2018. How to Obtain a Divorce in Jamaica? taken fromhttp://divorcelawyersjamaica.com/i-got-married-in-jamaica-how-do-i-get-divorced/


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