Laws of Eve | Men can do it too
Many readers might have seen the article on bet.com in which it is reported that Mary J. Blige's husband is seeking US$129,000 - the equivalent value of a small apartment in Jamaica - per month for spousal support.
Among her husband's monthly expense, there is US$8,000 per month for a private chef, US$5,000 to maintain children from a previous union, US$3,200 for a personal trainer and US$21,677 for charitable donations!
In Jamaica, because each claim for spousal support is determined on the basis of its own merit, the real issue is whether there is sufficient legal basis for the claim. Rather than being alarmed by the amount that is being claimed, let us consider what factors a Jamaican judge would need to consider in a spousal-support claim.
• The parties' means and ability.
• The parties' present and future assets and means.
• The applicant's capacity to contribute to his or her own support.
• The capacity of the other spouse to provide support.
• The ages and state of mental and physical health of both parties and their capacity to become gainfully employed.
• What steps can be taken for the applicant to be able to provide his or her own support, and how long and how much it will cost to enable the applicant to take those steps.
• The contribution of each party to the other's life.
• The quality of the relationship between the dependent and the respondent.
• How long the relationship lasted.
• Contribution to the relationship and how the applicant's economic circumstances changed during the relationship.
• Whether the applicant assumed responsibilities during the relationship which affected that spouse's earning capacity.
• The applicant's needs, with reference to the standard of living to which he or she had become accustomed during the relationship.
- Any legal obligation of either party to provide support for another person.
• Any contribution made by the applicant to help the other spouse to realise his or her career potential.
• The extent to which the payment of maintenance to one spouse would increase that spouse's earning capacity by enabling him or her to undertake a course of education or training, or to establish himself or herself in a business or otherwise to obtain an adequate income.
• The homemaker contribution.
• Whether the applicant was a homemaker.
• The effects of the applicant's child-care responsibilities on his or her earnings and career development.
• Does the applicant have to care for a child of 18 years of age or over who is unable to care for himself?
• The desirability of either party staying at home to care for a child.
• Any other sources of income or support.
• Whether there is any proposed or actual order in relation to the parties' property under the Property (Rights of Spouses) Act.
• The eligibility of either spouse for a pension, allowance or benefit under any rule, enactment, superannuating fund or scheme, and the rate of that pension, allowance or benefit.
Both men and women are entitled to make claims for spousal support, and this long list, which is by no means exhaustive, shows that the decision to award spousal support is not a simple one.
- Sherry Ann McGregor is a Partner and Mediator in the firm of Nunes, Scholefield, DeLeon & Co. Please send questions and comments to