Divorce often raises fundamental questions about core family issues, including finances and children. Addressing these issues properly will have a significant impact on your future. Marital breakdown can often be accompanied by emotional distress. Having an understanding of the process and receiving legal advice on the implications can often lead to more productive outcomes.
Divorce in the Cayman Islands is primarily government by the Matrimonial Causes Act (2021 Revision). Unfortunately, in this jurisdiction ‘no fault divorce’ is not available. Instead, parties must establish one of the grounds for divorce, which include: –
- Unreasonable behavior;
- Desertion for a continuous period of 2 years before issuing proceedings;
- You have lived apart for 2 years and the other party consents to the divorce;
- You have lived apart for 5 years.
In order to divorce in the Cayman Islands one of the parties must be domiciled here for 1 year, alternatively the wife can be habitually resident for 2 years. Even if parties were married here, the Cayman Islands does not have jurisdiction for divorce if they are not habitually resident/ domiciled.
Divorce is a 2-step process in a divorce and the court will first look to see if you have established the grounds. Afterwards the parties can turn to the substantive issues of children and finances. Importantly, this does not preclude the court dealing with matters on an emergency/ interim basis if necessary.
If parties have not been able to agree on children or financial issues themselves, the judge will refer them to mediation. Judicial Administration provides a free service to divorcing parties and attendance at an introductory meeting is mandatory. Settlement of these issues is often in the best interests of both adults and children and is strongly encouraged at all stages.
If parties cannot agree then the matter will have to be returned to a judge to decide. That process includes an exchange of written evidence and full disclosure of finances. If the issue revolves around children a social worker will be appointed to report to the court.
While instruction of an attorney is not mandatory, it is worth considering whether the short term financial saving could cost you more eventually. Divorce can be complex in many respects. Usually a judge will be mindful that a person is representing themselves and strive to ensure fairness, but he or she will have to strike a balance and cannot get too heavily involved in the process (for example by giving legal advice). A lay litigant can therefore be at a distinct disadvantage against an experienced attorney. We strongly recommend, therefore, that in the event of any matrimonial dispute that you seek out legal advice.
Hampson & Co has represented family law litigants for decades and appreciates that divorce can take an emotional and financial toll. We have a depth of experience in both children and financial matters and are ideally placed to help you through this turbulent time. If you have any queries or wish to set up a consultation please contact Graham W. Hampson or Yvonne Mullen.
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, it has been provided for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice, and should not be taken as such. If you require legal advice, please contact us and arrange a consultation.