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Questions frequently asked about divorce

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What provision does the law have for dissolving a marriage?

The law provides for divorce, judicial separation and nullity of marriage. In St Vincent and the Grenadines, married partners sometimes part without formalizing their separation before a court of law. Non-judicial divorces are not recognized by the law.{{more}}

How do I start a divorce?

You may start a divorce to dissolve your marriage by making an application in the form of a petition to the High Court. The petition may be presented by either the husband or the wife. The person who presents the petition is called the petitioner and the party who is petitioned against is the respondent. You would need a marriage certificate to support your application. The court requires an original marriage certificate rather than a photocopy of the document.

I was married two years ago, can I get a divorce?

You could get a divorce after three years of marriage, but there are exceptions to the rule. If you could show the court that you suffer hardship or that your spouse is depraved (wicked), then it could be obtained before three years have elapsed.

Do I have to give reasons in order to obtain a divorce?

Yes, you must prove or give grounds that your marriage is irretrievably broken down. You may present one or more of the following grounds as proof: 1. That your husband/wife has committed adultery. In that case you will have to present the name of the correspondent and maybe show that a child was born of the relation; 2. That your husband/wife’s behaviour is so bad that you can no longer bear to live with him/her. In this case you must give evidence of his behavior. It could be domestic violence or any other unreasonable behavior; 3. That your husband/wife has deserted you for two years; 4. That you and your wife/husband have lived apart for two years and that he or she agrees to the divorce; 5. That you and your wife/husband have lived apart for five years.

If I do not sign the documents served on me by my husband/wife, would this prevent the divorce?

It would not stop the proceedings. A document for acknowledgement of service is usually served with the petition. If you do not sign and return the document to the court office within eight days, the lawyer for the petitioner will apply to the Registrar to have the case heard uncontested. Further documents would be served on you and you must be informed of the date of the hearing. It is better for you to be present for an important event in your life, as you would not want to be taken unaware when the decree is served on you.

If I am living overseas, could I petition the High Court for a divorce?

Vincentians who are living overseas and have been married in St. Vincent or elsewhere could petition the High Court for a divorce. The documents must be served on the other party. The petitioner, however, must be present on the day the matter is heard. If for some reason he or she cannot be present in court, an application must be made to the Court to have the matter heard in his/her absence.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]