Info on getting a speedy divorce in Jamaica
Step 1 – Filing the Petition
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
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
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.
There is a myriad of other hiccups which plague divorce matters:
When the registrar checks the documents which are filed in divorce proceedings, or when the judge reviews the applications, there are times when requisitions are made because errors are noted in the documents or documents which should be on the court’s file are misplaced. When this happens, despite the promptitude of the response from the attorney, the file may join the end of the queue and face another lengthy delay.
There is a requirement for affidavits of search to be filed to say whether a respondent has filed any document challenging the divorce petition. Due to the lengthy delays at stages two and three, applications may be returned for further affidavits of search to be filed.
If one does not encounter the dreaded requisitions along the way, a typical uncontested divorce will take an average of nine months to be completed. I think that time lag can be significantly reduced and, in next week’s article, I will outline my proposed solution to the problems.