Discussion over new marriage law extended.

| 04/04/2011

(CNS): As a result of the feedback so far, the Law Reform Commission has extended the deadline for submitting comments and suggestions on the proposed Matrimonial Causes Law reform for one more week. The original deadline of 31 March has been extended until 8 April at the request of the public and legal associations. The draft consultation document, which proposes a number of changes to the rules governing divorce among other issues, has stirred up debate in the community. On CNS over 70 comments were posted on the article which revealed the proposed changes. With Cayman having one of the highest divorce rates in the world, the commission says it has made no decisions about the legal changes needed to address that and wants public input before finalising its recommendations.

It is looking for public comment on issues such as damages for adultery, compulsory mediation or counselling in divorce proceedings, and whether the law should be reformed to provide for irretrievable breakdown to be the single lawful reason for divorce.

One of the main differences between Cayman’s marital law and other jurisdictions is that people must still prove a fault based reason for divorce, such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion. They must also wait two years, even when a marriage has clearly broken down, contrasting with other jurisdictions where couples are granted divorces after twelve months apart and no faults necessarily being cited.

Lengthy time separations are believed by experts to merely prolong divorce rather than prevent it, and having a no fault as the single reason for divorce may prevent acrimony.

There is also support for more access to mediation for marriages that have not irretrievably broken down, especially in times of temporary difficulties. The discussion paper reveals that mediation before the lawyers are involved is common in the region and has proved successful. The commission asks if the Cayman Islands’ high divorce rate could be cut if couples were offered the opportunity of counselling.

In addition, the commission has raised the question of whether Cayman should retain the section of the law that provides third parties in cases of adultery to pay damages as such a provision has been considered anachronistic in some jurisdictions and abolished. It is argued that it promotes bitterness in the termination of marriages.

The discussion paper can be accessed here.

Comments should be submitted in writing by 8 April to the Director of the Law Reform Commission, 3rd Floor Anderson Square c/o Government Administration Building; or sent by e-mail to Cheryl.Neblett@gov.ky

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Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

     1. Premarital counselling should be a requirement for getting married.

    2. Counselling should be a requirement before getting a divorce barring physical abuse of course.

    3. No fault divorce should be added as a grounds for divorce. I agree that blaming someone or finding grounds for a divorce is not good as it makes for a bitter divorce.

    4. Third parties shouldn’t pay damages in a divorce that is broken down because of adultery.  The husband or wife that committed the adultery should pay.

  2. Rights Said Fred says:

    Surely it is time to approve same sex unions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Whatever else they are “same sex unions” are not marriages (as the Constitution makes clear) and the issue therefore does not arise in the context of the Marriage Law.

  3. Right ya so says:

    but surely counselling is a step that is taken BEFORE one starts divorce proceedings – why does it need to be ‘offered’ – the onus should be on the divorcing couple not on the law.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Marriage is a religious deal. The state should stay out of the relationship drama business.

    The only time the state should be involved in relationship drama is to protect children. It is sad when the only defensless victims of irresponsible relationship drama are children.

    • JTB says:

      So church ministers should decide on division of family property in divorce?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, for a percentage of course.

      • Anonymous says:

        They only care about collecting money.  They marry people that are clearly marriages of convenience.  

        There should be mandatory marital counselling by an outside person not the marriage officers.

    • Atheist says:

      I am a married atheist.  Marriage as defined in statutes is at its heart a secular legal status.  For religious people it has a parallel religious element.  The first category of marriage is a secularissue.  The second is not what this debate about.