Grounds For Divorce

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Jamaica?

Marriage in Jamaica West Indies is governed by the Marriage Act of Jamaica. The legal dissolution of a marriage falls under the Matrimonial Causes Act, which replaced the Divorce Act. The Matrimonial Cause Act was passed in 1989. 

The Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica, processes the applications for orders in matrimonial causes and also the petition for decree of absolution of marriages in Jamaica. 

Now either spouse can petition the court for a decree nisi and later a final order for decree absolute on the ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. 

Before the Supreme Court of Jamaica grants the decree, it must be satisfied with the following: 
1. Immediately preceding the date of the filing of the petition, the parties have been separated and have since lived apart for a continuous period of 1 year. 
2. That there is without a doubt any likelihood of cohabitation being resumed between the parties. 
To prove separation, it must be shown to the courts that cohabitation was terminated as a result of misconduct or an act of one of the parties. 

If the Petitioner is living under the same roof as the Respondent then they can also prove that they had been living separate from the other spouse even if they continued to live in the same house. 

If the marriage is under two years then the court won’t entertain a petition for dissolution of marriage unless the leave (permission) of the court has been granted for it to be presented within this period. 

Under the new Civil Procedure Rules, divorce can be sought without an attorney, however it is advisable to get the assistance of an attorney or visit the Legal Aid Clinic for assistance. 

The three-step process for filing for a divorce are

  • Filing the petition
  • Applying for decree nisi
  • Applying for decree absolute. 

There is no requirement for both parties to a marriage to agree to getting divorced. In fact, majority of the times we have found that couples often disagree about quite a few things by the time divorce proceedings has begun.

In quite a few cases, the spouse who wants to stay married will simply allow divorce proceedings to continue without any participation from them. Once they have given their response (Answer) to the Petition then it is filed, resulting in what is known as a contested divorce in Jamaica. 

Contested divorces in Jamaica West Indies, majority of the time usually end in favour of the petitioner, due to the fact that the petitioner only needs to prove that there has been a year of separation and that the marriage has broken down beyond repair (irretrievably).

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