Children’s law leads to reform of family justice

| 29/04/2013

(FamilyLaw.jpgCNS): New rules for the protection of children came into effect Monday as a result of the passage of the Children Law last July. Officials from the courts said the newly issued Children Law Rules and Allocation Order form a part of Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s proposals to reform the family services offered by the courts. The rules and forms will help to ensure that the interests of all parties are properly taken into account and decisions are made on the basis of the best interests of the children involved, the court stated. At present the initiative is led by Justice Richard Williams, who has been asked by the CJ to serve as judge for the case management of all family and children cases coming before the Grand Court.

“Regrettably, here in the Cayman Islands like everywhere else, there are a significant number of divorces as well as many children born to parents who are not married to each other,” said Justice Williams. “The biggest single factor in a child’s adjustment to the parents’ divorce or separation is how well the parents restructure their relationship to continue to meet the needs of the child; overall the Law and the Rules focus on what children need and how parents can be helped to better meet these needs during and after relationship break down.” 

The new provisions are designed to help all parties find the most appropriate and suitable arrangements. Another concern that the new provisions seek to address is the way a child is being cared for and when it may be necessary to consider the child’s care outside of the family. 

Provision is also made for cases in which it may be necessary for the family to be required to change the way they live in order to make sure that the child’s needs are properly met. 

The Law, Rules and Forms aim to make sure that children’s and parents’ interests, as well as those of the wider family who are involved in the care of the child, are properly considered.  In some such cases, the court can appoint an independent guardian to help it decide what is in the best interest of the child.

Chief Magistrate Nova Hall liaises with Justice Williams for the management of the cases which come before the Summary Courts. This will harmonise the work of the Grand Court and the Summary Courts and provide a specialised forum for family members to seek legal address in all family-related disputes, officials explained. Later this year, Family Division Judges and Magistrates will be supported by a Family Unit within the Civil Registry, which will process applications for family-related cases whether they relate to child care, maintenance or disposition of property.

A Family Division of the Grand Court was identified in 2009 and the intention is to work towards setting up a Family Court when the new court building is available. The Family Court will then have a wing of the building dedicated to the conduct of children and family cases under the administration of dedicated judicial and other support personnel.

The public may access the Law, Rules and Forms on the “Court Rules” page on the judicial website. The website also has a guidance section which explains what applications can be made, how to make them, and what to do if served with an application. This information will also be available from the court.

The Law and the Rules make major changes; important issues that they seek to address include:

  • giving non-resident parent’s relationship with a child the importance that it has in practice in the lives of many children;
  • the emphasis placed on the relationship between the child and relatives in the wider family;
  • speeding up procedures to identify issues of child safety and making them more effective;
  • making proceedings less adversarial and more about seeking settlement – an adversarial approach often inflames the acrimony that often exists between separating couples, making things worse rather than better;
  • alleviating the feeling of some parents that contact with children was allowed by the court in a way that put their or their children’s safety or well-being at risk;
  • treating resolution as an ongoing process at which parents needed to work over the long term rather than as a one-off event that ended with the court’s decision;
  • giving the court enhanced powers to enforce orders for contact, avoiding the need for cases to go back to court repeatedly and increasing the likelihood of cooperation.
  • The reforms are wide ranging and are designed to:
  • introduce timetables to deal with cases involving children so that proceedings are not delayed more than absolutely necessary;
  • provide better arrangements for the children of separating or divorcing parents;
  • keep parents who are separating or divorcing properly informed of the alternatives open to them and, indeed, helping both parents to help their children;
  • ensure that parents are treated equally in respect of the children and that both parents accept responsibility for their children;
  • minimise animosity among parents;
  • give grandparents rights (including situations where the child is “in care”);
  • overhaul the powers to protect children from abuse or neglect;
  • provide a more modern, framework for ensuring financial support for a child.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    A nation that displaces families by changing long-established residence rules on short notice does not care at all for children.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Deadbeat dads need to be jailed!!!  The Cayman Court system fails single moms and abandoned children.  The Court system is broken, doesn't work and just costs single moms more time and money.  Judges are too timid to send deadbeat dads to jail.  Until the judges decide to enforce the laws and make the deadbeats pay their debts, laws will be passed but nothing will actually happen.  My ex-husband is one of the worst deadbeats!!!  Only thing that will make him pay is if he was on his way to jail!!!  He has the money just wants its for himself and doesn't care about the children.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Women oftten know who these playas are before they get involved. He already has two baby mothers.. Women just want the sweet man who can reason with them right. How many fine,  educated women you see with some men who don't  even have the ambition to pull their pants up?and you say " What is she doing with him?,"  later your understand"  She becomes the third baby mother. Now she has child and is forever tied to this loser. A lot of drama. Too much baggage for moost decent men. Women you are in control.. Ask some questions first. Do you have a job? Did you finish high school? Did you attend university/college or intending. "Oh I want to go to college babes but you know the funds are low right now." Yeah right did not pass anything in school but you not hearing that. Women you need to walk away from these anchors before the finish talking. .                                                                                 

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, please the majority of men in Cayman are deadbeats.  They are fathers of the year when they are with the mothers married or not. They find some young huche mama leave their wives and children and forget they exist.

      Most of the women used to stay home and care for their children.  I would think that is a good mother not a bad one.The men didn't show off their underwear.  It isn't just young men doing this.  The father of my child is 43.  As for the playas, I don't trust any man as far as I can throw him cause like I said above, you can spend 30 years married to a man and then one day, he just ups and leaves you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    We have a law called the Maintenance Law, and like everything else around here the authorities seem to NEVER EVER seek to enforce it. More laws are not the solution – all that is needed is the testicular fortitude to enforce the ones we have. Mr. Attorney General, wha a’ gw’aan?

    • Anonymous says:

      You can't  equate "maintenance" withthe protection and well being of a child.  This law goes way beyound that monthly payments and I think the the courts and legislators should be applauded for making these changes.

      People in this country need to recognise how blessed we are to have such a forward thinking and advanced judicial and legal structure.


      My hats off to all involved.

  5. Anonymous says:

    To 10:27 i must say that i agree with you men do get way less than women in child support, unfortunately their are alot of men who make it bad for other men who sincerly do take care of their kids and has full custody of his children in certian circumstances but we never see or hear those kinds, not every man is a dog.   

    I am glad that the reform law has come into effect for child protection it will give the fathers/grandparents equal rights to present his/her case as to why they want custody.  As i will say most mothers do right by their children and both parties are able to have a decent conversation, while there are still alot of young caymanian mothers they need to grow up, stop chasing or bashing your ex's in front of your kids there is no point in it,  while you may think that your child will respect you it is actually the opposite. If need to chasing him,  just make sure that is for the money that is owed not for something else he may be carrying in his pants or his new girlfriend, i've surley seen alot of that going around here. 


  6. Anonymous says:

    I thought I was the only one in this situation.  $100K? wow.  Mine owes me almost 15K.  I must say Judge Hall was the only one that got me any money though.  The others are useless.  I went off on the last judge and let her know that I'm not taking the responsibility alone.  Without the mothers the children would starve.  That's not fair to the child or the mother.  

    The other thing I brought up as well.  We must miss our work, use all our vacation days in court and these no good men pay nothing and come laughing out of court.  

    I must admit, this is unbelievable.  I can't add much because your situation is almost identical to mine.  Best of luck to you.  I hope that you are able to get your money.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Cayman is actually silent on this new law…I cannot believe it.  For once unna aint got nothing to say.

    Well guess what all this sounds all fine and dandy and has been polished nicely but until I see the judge that can give me all the child support owed to me for the last 11 years amounting to well in the region of 100k+ then I will be all for it.

    We mothers waste all out time going to court for the judges, including Nova Hall, to slap men on the wrists and send us out the door.  What is the point!?   When you walk out the court room the man looks back and you and laughs because he knows he dont have to do nothing the judge ordered.

    There needs to be more drastic measures in place, very much like in the USA to make men abide by the Court orders. At present there is no back up to ensure that men do for there children. 

    The Maintenance Court/Summary/Grand is a joke!!

    I knew of a case where a man would not pay child support and on the day he showed up at court he would bring what he owed to avoid going to jail.  SERIOUSLY! why did that mother have to go to all that? 

    Well guess what – not all of us have that kind of time to spend.  Maybe the court should start paying us for all our time wasted there since the fathers aint doing it.

    Yea I am venting!! I am a fed up parent esp this evening.

    One disgusting, very social man who does nothing for his children can pick up the phone and say "I aint taking the kids unless you give me your car" HA!! I did that before just trying to keep him in the loop with his kids and he wrote the car off.  Hold on and I must do this Again SERIOUSLY!!

    No the line has to be drawn somewhere –  children didn't ask to be here.  Because fathers know the moms won't make the children do without they ride us like asses. 

    We wonder why Social Services is broke – it is because so many families are on it because they dont get support from the other parent as they should.  Also persons like me cant ask for social services much less legal aid.  Why the first thingthey will do is look at your car and look at your house and your paycheck and say Oh you can do it.  Well it aint about that it is about the principal of the situation.

    So mediation – sure its all good but at the end of the day we are still ridden by these no good men.  So until stricter rules and proper staff are put in place to ensure that court orders carried out and child support is paid then I say this law is a bunch of hogwash!

    Maybe all us mothers need to get together and hold our own march in front the court house for unna to understand what is really going on in this twisted society of ours!


    • Kit says:

      To: Anonymous – 20:21.Please don't hold the USA up as a standard for getting the noncustodial parent to pay court ordered child support because less than 50 % of custodial parents get the full payment stated by a court (men get less than women).  It varies from State to State.  We have to judge Cayman by Cayman.  As a single parent not receiving child support I know it's hard and you are right: the children should not suffer.  But let's give the new law a chance before we condemn it.