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Finding a good divorce attorney to guide you through this tough time is crucial in order to smoothen out the process and speed up the decision you want. If kids are involved, then it becomes even more important to have a professional advise you on the best approach to take.
Divorce is defined as the termination of marriage through a legal process. It can also be called the “dissolution of marriage” as opposed to an annulment wherein the law recognizes that a marriage occurred and will soon be ending. While an amicable divorce is perfectly possible, this legal dissolution must be done to address aspects of the marriage that you might not think about immediately.
For example, the divorce proceedings actually deals with how custody of the children will be settled, how property shall be divided, and how support shall be given by one spouse to the other. Approached correctly, however, applications for divorce in Jamaica, when there are no disputes between the parties, can be granted solely on the papers passed.
Who can apply for Divorce in Jamaica?
Anyone who meets these following categories can apply for divorce in Jamaica:
- Those who are Jamaican nationals.
- You are a domiciliary of Jamaica when the divorce proceedings started or were initiated.
- You are a resident of Jamaica for at least 12 months immediately preceding the start of the divorce proceedings.
On what basis will the divorce be granted?
Jamaica divorce law requires as a pre-condition that the husband and wife have been separated for 12 continuous months, with or without attempts to reconcile during this time. Hence, if you’ve separated for 6 months and there has been an attempt to reconcile for a few days but it was not successful, the attempt will not interrupt the 12-month period. In fact, even the parties still live in the same house, they may be considered as separated if it can be proven that this was the intention of the parties.
The intent to be separated despite living in the same house can be seen through the action of the parties. For example, you may no longer sleep in the same bed or perhaps there have been no sexual relations during the period. No longer sharing the household duties is also a sign of separation, such as when the spouse no longer washes the laundry of the other or cooking is now a separate activity.
Now, this might seem easy but the law still imposes certain restrictions. For example, if a marriage has been less than 2 years or that the welfare of a child must be considered, special requirements will be asked for by the court. In fact, courts will first make sure that the child of a marriage is properly cared for before issuing an order of dissolution of marriage.
Divorces are often quick and seamless when no child is involved and the only issue would be the division of the property.
Essentially, the primary ground for a court to grant a divorce is when there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
The Divorce Process in Jamaica West Indies
Step 1: Filing the Petition at the Supreme Court
The Petition is an initiatory pleading the details the history of the marriage as well as the grounds for the requested separation.
This is given to the Supreme Court whereupon it is reviewed and certified by the Registrar.
A copy of the court’s seal will be affixed on the Petition which will then be brought back to the lawyer for service to the other spouse.
Step 2: Service of the True Copy of the Petition
Service is done by a process server who shall deliver the petition upon instructions. From the time it is served, the other spouse has 14 days to file an Acknowledgement of Service.
This Acknowledgement of Service will also contain information on whether they oppose the divorce or not. An opposition requires that a hearing must be conducted. It is during this hearing that the person who filed the petition must show evidence supporting the claim of separation.
Step 3: Applying for the Decree Nisi
What if the opposing spouse agrees to the divorce? Well, now you can apply for Decree of Nisi. This is an initial order for the dissolution of marriage.
Also note that if the 14 days lapse without a reply from the opposing spouse, you can also apply for the Decree. Understand that since Jamaica is a large place, some areas may need more than 14 days for a reply.
For the Decree, the representatives will simply prepare papers which will be read in court without the presence of the parties.
Step 4: Applying for the Decree Absolute
The final order for the divorce proceedings is called the Decree Absolute and is issued six weeks following the issuance of the Decree of Nisi.
This is the last stage of the divorce process and once issued, terminates the marriage completely. The court will furnish this Decree to both you and the spouse as proof of the divorce and shall be valid when furnished and certified, even in courts of the territory. Like the Decree of Nisi, this final order is heard only on paper.
Despite how easy the whole process may seem, the fact is that all divorces are unique and are rarely resolved in such a straightforward manner. This is why even without opposition, consulting with a divorce lawyer in Jamaica can help you properly approach the problem, knowing exactly what is at stake and what move should be made.
More importantly, a good divorce lawyer in Jamaica West Indies can help you tackle conflicts arising from the marriage such as support, property division, care of the children, and so on.
Divorce Attorney Tips
Lawyer Fees: Always ask whether there’s a consultation fee when meeting a divorce lawyer for the first time. While some attorneys waive the fee, others will require payment even during the first meeting.
How does the attorney make you feel? Go with your gut instincts when choosing a good attorney. You’d want someone you’re comfortable with and can talk to honestly. Communication is crucial when it comes to attorney-client relationships so if you feel awkward, it might be best to find someone else to help you through this tough time.