Thu | Feb 22, 2018

Judges' Christmas wish - Reduce the steps to make a divorce final

Published:Sunday | December 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle

Several of Jamaica's judges want the Matrimonial Causes Act amended to make it easier for them to grant divorces.

According to the judges, who spoke to The Sunday Gleaner on condition of anonymity, the law should be changed so that divorce petitions do not have to go before them twice before they are granted.

The judges have recommended that once the petition has been properly served and filed, there should be no need for the grant of a decree nisi at the first stage and then the grant of a decree absolute at least six weeks later.

They argued that after ensuring that everything is in order, the judge should be able to just make a final order, as this could save a lot of judicial time.

"Something is really wrong with so many divorces flooding the court, and in some instances some people marry this year and want to divorce next year. The judges have to go through the affidavits in divorce cases to ensure that everything is in order. It is time-consuming to be going over the process twice," one judge said.

"Divorce cases are running competition with criminal cases, and something must be done now to change the method of divorce," he added.

The Supreme Court's Statistical Record for 2017 Easter Term (April to July) showed a total of 1,900 divorce petitions were filed, an increase of 3.2 per cent over the 2017 Hilary Term (January to April).

Of the number, 1,127 or 59.31 per cent were petitions for dissolution of marriage, compared to 773 or 40.69 per cent which were amended petitions for dissolution of marriage.

The analysis shows for every 100 petitions for dissolution of marriage there were roughly 69 amended petitions for dissolution of marriage in the Easter Term.

In addition, for every 100 decrees absolute filed there were roughly 123 decrees nisi filed in the period.

The number of decrees absolute granted increased by 14.85 per cent when compared to the Hilary Term, while the number of decrees nisi increased by 4.35 per cent.

A total of 1,130 matrimonial matters were disposed of in the Easter Term, 99.99 per cent of which were by the method of decrees absolute granted and the remaining 0.1 per cent by way of a notice of discontinuance.