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    What is the process to obtain a divorce in Jamaica?

    Under Jamaican law a valid marriage may be terminated only by the death of one of the parties or by a decree of dissolution or divorce; a Decree Absolute pronounced by a court of competent jurisdiction. Therefore, where a spouse dies a divorce is not needed as the death ipso facto ends the marriage.

    Divorce Proceedings in Jamaica

    Divorce proceedings in our jurisdiction are governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act (The Act). Essentially, the dissolution of a marriage is a judicial act and so cannot lawfully be obtained by any other means otherwise than by a court hearing. Divorce proceedings in Jamaica are dealt with in the Supreme Court of Judicature which is the only court of competent jurisdiction.


    By virtue of section (5) of the Matrimonial Causes Act, there is only one ground required to show reason for the divorce and that is, that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. It follows that if the Court is not satisfied that there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and so there is a reasonable likelihood of the parties resuming the marital relationship then the divorce will not be granted. Either party to the marriage who believes that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and so there is no likely prospect of reconciliation may apply to obtain a decree for the dissolution of the marriage. The application is by way of petition and so the applicant is the petitioner and the other spouse, the respondent.


    In establishing to the court’s satisfaction that there is irretrievable break down of the marriage and a Decree Nisi is warranted, the petitioner must satisfy the court that they have separated and thereafter have lived separately and apart for a continuous period of not less than 12 months before the date of filing the divorce petition. Even where the parties may continue to reside in the same house or rendered some household services to the other, the Court may nevertheless find that the parties are separated and lived separately apart. It is the circumstances of the living arrangement that will be examined by the court in this regard to see if there is separation in fact and law.


    How to file for divorce in Jamaica

    Do you need to file for a divorce in Jamaica? Our legal experts can help you with this process. Find out more by clicking here

    Cost of divorce in Jamaica

    Divorce in Jamaica costs does not have to be very expensive. Find out more about the cost for a divorce by clicking here

    Cheap divorce lawyers in Jamaica, Be careful of them!

    Did you know that cheap divorce lawyers in Jamaica will give you results that you did not bargain for?

    I got married in Jamaica how do I get divorced?

    Are you a citizen from another country that had got married in Jamaica and now you need  information on getting a divorce?

    Did you know that divorce affects the relationship between parents and their children? Read this article for tips on how to reconnect with your child after a divorce.

    Divorce is granted by the Supreme Court of Jamaica and usually entails dissolving the bonds of matrimony between a married couple under the rule of law.

    Other things to take into consideration when getting divorced are division of debt, parenting time, child access, parenting time, child custody, spousal support (alimony) and distribution of property.


    Contested divorce

    Contested divorces mean that one of several issues are required to be heard by a judge at the Supreme Court of Jamaica at trial level. This is more expensive, and the parties will have to pay for a lawyer’s time and preparation. In such a divorce the parties involved are not able to agree on issues for example, the division of marital assets. In such situations, the litigation process takes longer to conclude, and this has been known to take anywhere from 1 year to 2 years. The judge controls the outcome of the case.


    Uncontested divorce

    In an uncontested divorce the two parties are able to come to an agreement (either with or without lawyers/mediators/collaborative counsel) about the children, property, and support issues. When the parties can come to an agreement and present the Supreme Court of Jamaica with a fair and equitable agreement, approval of the divorce is almost guaranteed. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, they may ask the court to decide how to split property and deal with the custody of their children.


    Rights of spouses to custody of children

    Child custody policies include several guidelines that determine with whom the child lives following divorce, viswitation rights, and how time is divided in joint custody situations. The most frequently applied custody guideline is the best interests of the child standard, which considers:

    • the parents’ preferences,
    • the child’s preferences,
    • the interactions between parents and children,
    • children’s adjustment,
    • and all family members’ mental and physical health.

    Child support/maintenance is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the dissolution of a marriage or other similar relationship. Child maintenance is paid directly or indirectly by an obligor to an obligee for the care and support of children of a relationship that has been terminated.

    Division of property

    Also known as equitable distribution, is a judicial division of property rights and obligations between spouses during divorce. It may be done by agreement, through a property settlement, or by judicial decree. When it comes to the division of property, the Supreme Court of Jamaica  has the power to make a variety of orders to either party involved. These include the following: The payment of a lump sum may be ordered to one party from the other or in a series of lump sums depending on what is most appropriate. With property, it’s not just necessarily physical property as in your house. There are also assets like maintenance, pensions, joint savings that can all be factored into the overall estate that you share.

    How are the assets divided in a divorce?

    When it comes to dividing the assets, there are certain things that have to be taken into consideration:

    • The standard of living that was enjoyed by the family before the dissolution of the marriage.
    • Any physical or mental disabilities that either party has.
    • The income, earning capabilities, property, and other financial resources that each party has or will have in the foreseeable future.
    • The financial needs and obligations or responsibilities that each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
    • The age of each party to the marriage and length of the marriage.
    • Any mental or physical disabilities that either party has.
    • The contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family.



    Alimony refers to the financial assistance and monetary support provided by one spouse to another after a marriage ends in divorce. Oftentimes, the receiving spouse must not be able to support themselves without the help of their ex-spouse. Therefore, alimony is a sum of money calculated and fixed by the judge to be paid to one of the parents usually as a contribution to the education and maintenance of the child.

    Alimony may be based on a series of factors, such as the length of the marriage, the age of the parties,  degrees earned (if any) etc. The amount of the alimony can be calculated according to several elements related to the expenses and the conditions of resources of the divorced or separated parents, such as their credit, rent, the net monthly income of the spouses, , taxation or specific expenses related to the children (health, education, medical etc). Payments may be paid in one lump sum, or in a series of monthly payments.  Duration of alimony is often based on the length of the marriage, in other words, the longer the marriage, the longer the duration of alimony will be paid.

    Jonathan G.

    Jonathan G.

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