Seeking legal advice
You can obtain legal advice to understand your rights and responsibilities before applying for a divorce in Jamaica or other applications in relation to a divorce. A lawyer can help explain how the law applies to your specific case.
Who is eligible for getting a divorce in Jamaica West Indies?
To make an application for divorce in Jamaica W.I., the petitioner must be either:
1 – A Jamaican national
2 – Domiciled in Jamaica at the commencement of the proceedings
3 – Resides in Jamaica and had done so for at least 12 months immediately preceding the commencement of the proceedings.
What are the grounds for divorce in Jamaica?
You are not required to outline the circumstances leading to the breakdown in the marriage.
Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only grounds for accessing divorce on the island of Jamaica and this is determined by the Jamaican court.
However, the court is obliged to inquire whether the parties have attempted counseling and whether there is any chance of reconciliation.
The Process for divorce in Jamaica
The court will be satisfied that the parties have separated for a continuous period of 12 months even if they resumed cohabitation for an insubstantial time for up to three months in an attempt to reconcile during that 12-month period. The 12-month period would not have been interrupted in spite of such an attempt.
The parties could still be viewed as separated if they continue to cohabit in the same dwelling. This could be considered, for example, if one of the partners has removed from the matrimonial bedroom into another bedroom in the home, ceases to engage in sexual relations, or ceases to carry out household duties such as washing, cleaning or cooking on their spouse’s behalf.
Getting A Divorce Attorney in Jamaica
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. Speak with us today by clicking here
Our team of divorce lawyers can provide support by:
- Drafting the divorce petition
- Obtaining the marriage certificate
- Lodging the petition in court
- Serving the petition on the respondent
- Drafting documents outlining the plans for the care, maintenance and support of children
- Requesting that the divorce be granted without a hearing
- Negotiating for the settlement of property
Filing For Divorce in Jamaica W.I.
Step 1 – Filing the Petition in Jamaica
Once filed, the petition is not immediately returned to the attorney for service on the respondent. The first delay occurs due to the insertion of a step which, although not stipulated by the Matrimonial Proceedings Rules, requires the court’s registrar to vet the petition before signing and stamping.
Even where there are no errors in the documents, the petition may take an average of one month to be signed. It could take longer, if an error is noted, which would involve the petition being refiled.
Step 2 – Applying for Decree Nisi in Jamaica
Fourteen days after the petition has been served on the respondent (in Jamaica), who raises no challenge to the divorce proceedings, the petitioner may submit an application to obtain the first order in the divorce proceedings – the decree nisi.
The application is supposed to be submitted to a judge to be considered without the need for a hearing. What seems like a simple process in theory, could result in an average of six months before the application is placed before a judge.
Step 3 – Applying for Decree Absolute in Jamaica
Six weeks after decree nisi is granted, the petitioner may apply for the final order in the divorce proceedings (decree absolute). This, too, is an application which goes before the judge for consideration without the need for a hearing. It could take upwards of two months for the application to be placed before the judge.
Please note: If the couple has been married for less than two years there are some changes to the process that must be considered.
The affidavit in support of the application for permission to file a petition within the first two years of marriage must:
- Provide proof of the marriage (e.g. a copy of the marriage certificate)
- State the special circumstances which justify the hearing of the petition
- Give particulars of any attempted reconciliation (an affidavit from the marriage counsellor would be helpful)
- State whether there is a reasonable likelihood of a reconciliation
- State whether there are any children, their names, ages, dates of birth and the arrangements for their care, maintenance and upbringing; and
- Exhibit a copy of the proposed petition.
Contesting A Divorce in Jamaica
In some cases, one party to the divorce may not be ready to ‘throw in the towel’. In such cases, the divorce may be contested. It is then likely to take longer for a date to be fixed for the hearing and the petitioner may have to prove all the facts set out in the petition, including the fact of separation and that there is no possibility of resuming cohabitation. These situations do not occur frequently.
1. The registrar of the Supreme Court vets and corrects each and every petition for dissolution of marriage before it is signed and returned to the attorney for service on the respondent. This process could take as little as three weeks or as long as eight weeks.
2. If there are errors in the petition, the registrar will notify the attorney so that the errors can be corrected and the petition resubmitted for signing. The time period for the completion of this process cannot be easily determined, as the petition could then go to the back of the queue before it can get signed.
3. When the application for the first order in the divorce proceedings (decree nisi) is filed, there is no formula for determining when it will be submitted to a judge for consideration. It could take as long as three months for the documents to reach the hands of a Judge. Some attorneys have resorted to having the matters heard in open court rather than waiting for them to be considered on paper.
How to file for a Divorce in Jamaica while living overseas or abroad
Individuals who live overseas or abroad and who have some connections to Jamaica normally enquire whether they should apply for their divorce in Jamaica.
Who can apply to the Supreme Court of Jamaica for a Divorce?
It is no secret that Jamaica offers destination weddings and thousands of couples all over the world get married in very picturesque locations in Jamaica such as Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril, Port Antonio etc and are thereafter issued with marriage certificates from the relevant authority. Where, unfortunately, the marriage breaks down, we normally receive inquiries related to whether they can apply for a divorce in Jamaica.
The Attorneys in our law firm normally advise that the following are the categories of persons who can apply for a divorce in Jamaica pursuant to the Matrimonial Causes Act:-:
• Where either party to the marriage is domiciled in Jamaica at the commencement of the proceedings; or
• Where either party to the marriage is a Jamaican national; or
• Where either party to marriage resides in Jamaica and have done so for at least 12 months immediately preceding the commencement of the proceedings.
Accordingly, if persons got married in Jamaica but either party to the marriage does not meet any of the requirements outlined above, then the Court in Jamaica would not have the jurisdiction or power to grant the divorce or the decree for dissolution of the marriage.
What do I need to prove in order to obtain a divorce in Jamaica?
You need to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and that there is no likelihood that cohabitation will be resumed.
Do I have to file my petition in the Jamaican court?
The Jamaican Supreme Court will only entertain petitions where either party is a Jamaican national, domiciled in Jamaica or ordinarily resident in Jamaica for at least 12 months immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.
7. Will I Need My Marriage Certificate?
The original marriage certificate will need to be presented to the Court when the application is being made for the Decree Nisi. If you can’t find it then you can get another one from the Registrar General Department (RGD)
Speedy Divorce Lawyers Jamaica
A lot of our clients ask for a speedy divorce in Jamaica. Fact is that the average time for a divorce, once the documents have been filed, is 9 to 12 months.