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.

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Divorce Proceedings in Jamaica?

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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 a separation in fact and law. 

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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.


process to obtain a divorce in Jamaica

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?

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Did You Know?

Where children and property are involved, the divorce process can include issues relating to spousal support, child support and custody, the distribution of property and the division of debt.


Our expert divorce attorneys are here to help guide you through your divorce and all the elements that go with it, including childcare arrangements and financial settlements.

Spousal Support

When you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, one of you might agree to pay the other either a lump sum or ongoing spousal maintenance payments.

Child Support

When parents split up, it is common for the financial burden of the children’s day-to-day expenses to fall to the parent with whom the children live most of the time.

Property Division

When you divorce, you and your ex-partner need to agree on how to separate your finances. This includes deciding how you’re going to divide your pensions, property, savings and .investments

Family Law

Family law is made up of three main areas of work: matrimonial, finance, and child law. Family lawyers act on matters such as divorce and separation, child contact and adoption, and financial settlements.

Female Divorce Lawyers

We are a team of female divorce attorneys based in Jamaica, West Indies. We understand that divorce is not easy, and legal decisions can seem like a daunting prospect.


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.

Divorce Info

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, visitation 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.

supreme court in Jamaica West Indies

The COVID-19 pandemic presented many couples with an unprecedented challenge. Beyond the often-lethal impact of the disease itself, many couples also experienced job loss (particularly women), immense stress as a result of parenting kids through remote learning, and a correspondingly diminished sex drive. Any of these factors alone might deepen an already cracked marriage, but it feels as though there’s also something deeper and more philosophical, happening in the divorces taking place this year. To read more about the effects of covid on divorces, click here


The legal system of Jamaica is based on British common-law. The administration of justice is carried out through a network of courts. The courts of Jamaica are:

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is the final court of appeal, is based in London, England. It hears appeals on criminal and civil matters from the Jamaican Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal consists of the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Justice (who sits at the invitation of the President) and six judges of the Court of the Appeal. A person who is dissatisfied with a decision of one of the other courts, except Petty Sessions, can appeal to this court. Petty Sessions appeals are heard by a judge in chambers.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is one of the primary institutions of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The CCJ has two core functions − to act as the final appellate court for the CARICOM member states and as an international court ruling on matters relating to the foreign policy coordination of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (2001) that outlines terms of economic cooperation among CARICOM members.
The Supreme Court of Jamaica is responsible for hearing serious civil and criminal matters.
At the parish level, the Resident Magistrates’ Courts deal with less serious civil and criminal offences. The Resident Magistrate of a parish is also the Coroner and conducts preliminary inquiries into criminal matters.
There are four special courts – Traffic Court, Gun Court, Family Court and Revenue Court. There are also Petty Sessions courts that deal with minor offences and are presided over by Justices of the Peace.


A prenuptial agreement (often referred to as a prenup) is a contract entered into between two parties before they marry. It records the ownership of assets and details what will happen to these assets should the marriage break down and end in divorce.

In the simplest of terms, a prenup dictates “who gets what”, but there is a lot more to consider before deciding on signing a prenuptial agreement and there are many misconceptions about them.

Prenuptial agreements are often considered the preserve of very wealthy individuals, such as businesspeople and celebrities, who are looking to protect their assets from a less wealthy future spouse.

This misconception may be a consequence of the fact that prenups will often appear in the news when famous people go through a public divorce. In actual fact anyone can get a prenup and there are a number of reasons why you might consider signing one before marrying.


The domestic partnership is a legal relationship between two people of the same or opposite sex who live together and share a domestic life, but aren’t married or joined by a civil union nor are blood relatives

A common-law/domestic partnership relationship is possibly the most prevalent form of committed relationship in Jamaica.  Many individuals opt out of walking down the aisle to marry their significant other because of fear of commitment yet their day-to-day activities is similar and in likeness to that of a married couple. The main fear indicated by many is the thought that if they live together and eventually separate, there will be no need for division of property. This is a common misconception as there are laws to protect parties who have been in a common law union.

Defining Spouse

Section 2 of The Property (Rights of Spouses) Act defines “spouse” as including a single man and a single woman who have been cohabiting together as if they were in law husband and wife for no less than five years. The term ‘cohabit’ is defined as meaning, ‘to live together in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage’.                                                  

How can you determine if you are in a common law relationship?

In the case of Kimber v Kimber (2000), it highlighted the factors that would determine if you are in a common-law relationship. They are as follows:

  1. Living together in the same household
  2. A sharing of daily life
  3. Stability and a degree of permanence in the relationship
  4. Shared Finances
  5. A sexual relationship
  6. Children
  7. Common Intention and motivation

After identifying that you are in a common law relationship, you may now be wondering “what would I be entitled to should I separate from my spouse?” or you may already be separated and thinking “I just wasted the best 10 years of my life for nothing!” Do not lose heart as there are laws to protect the common-law spouse and we will discuss this in  the next article.

Do you know the effects that divorce can have on women?


How much does a divorce cost Jamaica?

On average, divorce in Jamaica starts at $90,000 and can take from 7 to 9 months to complete. The competence of your divorce attorney and the complexity of your case will influence the cost for your divorce and the length of time it will take.

What is the easiest way to get a divorce in Jamaica?

The easiest type of divorce is called an uncontested divorce and takes the least amount of time. This relatively fast divorce process happens because all of the major issues have been agreed upon by you and your spouse.

How long does an uncontested divorce take in Jamaica?

An uncontested divorce in Jamaica West Indies can be finalized in approximately 9 to 12 months. There is less acrimony involved with uncontested cases, which therefore allows the proceedings to move on due to the fact that there is less acrimony.

How long after divorce can you remarry in Jamaica?

Once the Supreme Court of Jamaica enters the judgment, the divorce is final. However, the marriage is not formally dissolved and the spouses cannot remarry until the end of the state’s waiting period.

How do you dissolve a marriage in Jamaica?

Either party to the marriage (at any time after the marriage ceremony) can initiate an application for an annulment of marriage at the Supreme Court of Jamaica by the filing of a Petition for Nullity of Marriage pursuant to Rule 76.4 (3) of the Civil Procedure Rules, 2002.

What are good reasons to get divorced?

There are numerous grounds for divorce, but only 12 are recognised by law. C heating or adultery. Bigamy. Desertion. Insanity at the moment of marriage. the marriage of close relatives. impotence at the time of marriage. Using coercion or fraud to get married. Conviction and/or imprisonment for a crime.

What is the minimum time to file divorce?

One year is the minimum statutory requirement for filling a divorce case in the court.

When divorce is the best option?

Your partner has a history of abusing you. Your partner is abusing drugs or alcohol and won’t seek assistance. Your partner has been unfaithful on many occasions and doesn’t appear serious about wanting to stop.

How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce in Jamaica?

Before requesting a divorce in Jamaica, you must have been married for at least two years and separated for at least one year, under that Act. Prior to the application date, that one-year separation must have been continuous. Separation, however, is not just a problem for separated spouses.

Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce in Jamaica?

When deciding whether to dissolve their marriage, the spouses may require the counsel and aid of a lawyer. In Jamaica West Indies, attorneys frequently provide guidance and outline the procedure.

What are the steps for divorce in Jamaica?

Divorce in Jamaica goes through four stages: (1) commencement, or submitting a petition for divorce, (2) service, (3) application for a decree nisi, and (4) application for an absolute decree.

Can I get a divorce in Jamaica without a lawyer?

The only legal options for obtaining a divorce in Jamaica are to hire a private attorney or apply for legal aid, which is partially funded by the State. The procedure: To file for divorce, you must have been married for at least two years.

How long is divorce process in Jamaica?

The petitioner may next file the proper paperwork for a decree nisi, sometimes known as the first Divorce Order. A hearing before the judge is not necessary. However, this process takes, on average, nine to twelve months to complete.

What is the fastest way to get a divorce in Jamaica?

In Jamaica, it is possible to divorce quickly. An uncontested divorce is the most straightforward and speediest kind of divorce. Because you and your spouse have resolved all of the major issues, that will enable the divorce to be finalised really quickly.

What documents are required for divorce in Jamaica?

The following documents are submitted with the application for the decree nisi: a) notice to dispense with hearing; b) petitioner’s affidavit in support of petition for dissolution of marriage; c) affidavit of search; and d) decree nisi.

How do you dissolve a marriage in Jamaica?

According to Rule 76.4 (3) of the Civil Procedure Rules, 2002, either party to the marriage may begin an application for an annulment of marriage at the Supreme Court of Jamaica at any time following the marriage ceremony by submitting a Petition for Nullity of Marriage.

Am I legally married if I got married in Jamaica?

The United States recognises marriages that occur in accordance with Jamaican law as being legitimate unions. Before the ceremony can take place, Jamaican residents getting married must be present for at least 24 hours. Blood tests are not necessary.

What should I do first when my wife wants a divorce?

Things to do if your wife wants a divorce but you want to patch things up with her. Think about therapy. One of the finest methods to try to save your marriage is to think about going to marital counselling. Pay attention to her, maintain your composure, keep your cool, be respectful, be self-assured, and keep busy.

What if one partner doesn’t want divorce?

Your only choice for dissolving your marriage if your spouse won’t cooperate is to file for divorce in court. Due to the absence of your spouse, mediation will be ineffective. Divorce by collaboration won’t succeed. Your divorce will need to be litigated. Be sure to read our article on co-parenting tips after divorce.

Can I divorce my husband if he doesn’t agree?

Making the decision to file for divorce can be challenging, particularly if you are unsure that your spouse will sign the petition. Importantly, however, you don’t require your spouse’s approval to obtain a divorce. If your spouse refuses, it can take a while, but they won’t be able to stop you forever.

What is the best type of divorce?

An uncontested divorce is when both parties consent to the dissolution of the marriage and to all aspects of the divorce, such as the distribution of property and the care of any children. Due to the lack of a trial and drawn-out negotiations, this type of divorce may be speedier and simpler than other types.

How painful is divorce?

Divorce is a stressful, drastically altering life experience. It’s crucial to take care of yourself while you’re going through this difficult emotional time or going through a significant shift in your life. You may become psychologically and physically vulnerable as a result of the stress and disruption caused by the breakup.

Can separation save a marriage?

If done properly and with clear agreements from the beginning, a separation can strengthen a marriage. Getting outside assistance and keeping frequent communication are key components of a successful separation that improves a partnership.

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