How to get child support from a parent residing overseas
With a rise in the number of Jamaicans seeking employment opportunities overseas, one area that is affected is family life, where one parent migrates and leaves a family behind. Sometimes they honour their obligations to continue maintaining the minor children they have left behind, and sometimes they cut all ties, and some will even remarry without getting a divorce (Bigamy)
Legal Steps for Child Maintenance
There are legal steps that you can take if you are a parent who child father/mother has migrated and refuses to support their child in Jamaica.
Note that the Ministry of Justice is the organization that processes applications regarding child maintenance in keeping with the Maintenance Orders (Facilities For Enforcement) Act. The enforcement of maintenance orders is done in collaboration with the the courts of Jamaica and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade collaborate together to enforce the maintenance orders with the countries and states that have reciprocal agreements with Jamaica.
This means that children who have delinquent parents living in these jurisdictions are able to benefit from this arrangement..
What is a Reciprocating State?
The list of reciprocating states as set out in the Maintenance Order (Facilities for Enforcement) Regulations are:
The United States of America (Maryland, New Jersey, Florida)
Prince Edward Island
Caribbean (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)
Bailiwick of Guernsey
Isle of Man, Jersey
If the delinquent parent resides in a non-reciprocating state you may still file for child maintenance. The court may make orders to facilitate alternative means of service for the delinquent parent to appear in court on a specified date and other orders as appropriate, having regard to the location of the parties.
However, where a court in Jamaica has made a maintenance order against a person and that person is resident in a non-reciprocating state, the person who filed the order will be required to initiate proceedings in that state by sending a certified copy of the court order for registration and enforcement. It is strongly recommended that the counsel of an attorney be sought in this instance.
If the delinquent parent resides in a non-reciprocating state, the person who filed the order in Jamaica will be required to initiate the proceedings in that residing state of the delinquent parent by sending a certified copy of the court order for registration and enforcement. It is strongly recommended that the counsel of an attorney be sought in this instance.
If the child is not a citizen of Jamaica W.I. but lives in Jamaica W.I. with the parent who was granted custody of the child, the law in Jamaica concerning support of children does not make a distinction between minors who are citizens and non-citizens. Therefore, a person has the right to file a claim for such orders concerning any child in Jamaica
The Judicial Process for Filing for Child Support in Jamaica W.I.
Step #1. File a claim for child support in the Family Court or the Resident Magistrate’s court in your parish.
Step #2. Once filed the application will be processed, and will be served on the parent from which child support is being sought. We strongly suggest hiring an attorney for this process.
Step #3. Both parents or their representatives are required to be in court on the date specified, once the application has been served. The judge can make a provisional order for support, if one parent is absent, based on the evidence — affidavit — of the applying party.
Step #4. After reviewing the documents and statements, the judge will then make an order which determines how much the parent is expected to pay for child maintenance on a weekly or monthly basis and also how and where the payments are to be made.
Step #5. Once an order is made, the clerk of the court will have the order certified and send it to the minister who will then send the order through the appropriate channels to the relevant authority in the reciprocating state.