UN body the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women expressed concern about the divorce system in Jamaica during a recent meeting with policymakers from the island in New York.
The Committee said it was worried by:
“…the complicated procedures for divorce within the state, which provides that the parties must be married for a minimum of two years and de facto separated for one year, and that the courts, rather than the parties, would decide whether to grant the divorce based on the irreparable rupture of the marriage and only after a period of six months.”
The group added that it was concerned:
“…that these complicated and extensive proceedings are harmful to women, particularly in cases of abusive relationships, and where women may not have the same resources as men.”
Jamaican policymakers should review the legislation, said the Committee, and consider ways to simplify divorce procedures in order to to try and ensure that women are not left in a vulnerable or harmful position.
Under the current Matrimonial Causes Act, couples may seek a divorce in the island’s Supreme Court if they can demonstrate that the marriage has broken down irreparably and that they have lived apart for a continuous period of 12 months immediately prior to filing the petition.
The Act states:
“A decree of dissolution of marriage shall not be made if the court is satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood of cohabitation being resumed.”