Child Maintenance

Child Maintenance in Jamaica

The Child Maintenance Act of Jamaica gives an obligation to both parents of the child to provide for a child that is under 18 years of age, an obligation which extends to children over 18 with a physical and/or mental disability or who are enrolled in tertiary studies, for example the University of the West Indies.

What is Child Maintenance

Child maintenance is money to help pay for the living costs of your child. It’s paid by the parent who doesn’t usually live with the child to the person who has most day-to-day care of the child. It’s also called ‘child support’.
Every parent has an obligation to financially support their unmarried child who is a minor under the age of 18 years. If the child has any form of physical or mental disability then it will be for a longer period. If the child is enrolled in a course of study then the parent has an obligation for the child up to 23 years of age.
In regards to grandparents, the Jamaica Maintenance Act 2005 holds that every grandparent, to the extent that they are able, has an obligation to maintain their unmarried grandchildren in the event of the failure of the parents to do so due to disability, death, mental or physical infirmity.

Enforcement of Maintenance Orders

The enforcement of maintenance orders is done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They do this by transmitting court orders issued in Jamaica for child maintenance to the appropriate authorities in the residing country where the delinquent parent is located. Once this has been done, then periodic follow-up is done at the request of the person who applied for the order if there happens to be any delay in enforcement. The Jamaican courts also make it possible for a parent who resides overseas to file for support of their child from the parent who is living in Jamaica West Indies, provided that the country they are in, is a reciprocating state.
Here are more articles on child support

Application for maintenance.

This is a simple process and may be done without a lawyer in the Family Court of Jamaica, or with a lawyer through the Supreme Court of Jamaica. In regards to the child’s prenatal care and birth, the court may even make an award for the payment of a sum of money to cover expenses for the child.

Jamaica has reciprocal agreements for child support with several countries, for situations where one of the child’s parent is living overseas. See below:

United States (Maryland, New Jersey, Florida)

Canada (Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island)

Caribbean islands (Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands) 

United Kingdom, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Bailiwick of Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Niue, and Western Samoa. 

Where maintenance of a child is being considered within divorce proceedings in Jamaica often an agreement is reached as to the amount of child maintenance that is to be paid.

Non-reciprocating state/country

All hope is not lost if the parent is living in non-reciprocating state/country. The Jamaican court may make orders to facilitate alternative means of service for the delinquent parent to appear in court on a specified date and make other orders as appropriate, having regard to the location of the parties. You would be required to initiate The proceedings can be initiated in the country/state where the other parent resides by sending a certified copy of the court order for registration and enforcement. This can be done by you.

If the child is not a citizen of Jamaica

If the child is not a citizen of Jamaica but lives in Jamaica W.I., with the parent who was granted custody of the child, the Jamaican law concerning maintenance of children does not make a distinction between minors who are either non-citizens or citizens. Therefore, a person may file a claim for such orders concerning any child in Jamaica West Indies.