(CNS): The Cayman Islands public is being invited to weigh in on three draft bills that government is proposing to modernise the legislation surrounding marriage and family life. The new laws include major changes to the process of divorce with the introduction of irretrievable breakdown as a no fault reason, the removal of the right to damages for adultery and cutting the separation period before a divorce can be granted to just one year. The bills also deal with maintenance payments, including the increase in the age parents remain financially responsible for their children from 14 to 18.
The Law Reform Commission has been working on legislation to shape the family law environment and the areas of matrimony, maintenance and family property for more than six years. It now has three new proposed bills ready for public comment ahead of any final decisions by government.
Cayman has a high divorce rate despite relatively strict legislation that makes the ending of marriages harder here than in comparative jurisdictions. In a 2010 report by the United Nations, Cayman had the fifth highest divorce rate per capita in the world. But getting a divorce in the Cayman Islands is by no means easy and it currently requires that someone has to be blamed for the marriage collapsing. In addition, people can pursue adulterous spouses and their extramarital partners in the court for financial damages.
The new trio of bills proposes eliminating the fault-based system to the more commonly accepted reason of irretrievable breakdown. It also includes a proposal to reduce the current separation period of two and five years to just 12 months before the dissolution of a marriage. The new legislation also proposes recognising common law unions of five years or more when it comes to family property rights.
The changes to the legislation include the introduction of mediation, the recognition of pre-nuptial agreements, gender equality in maintenance proceedings and removing the remaining legal provisions distinguishing between children regarded as illegitimate and legitimate, among other changes.
No final decision has been made on the legislation, officials stated in a release, and before the draft bills head to Cabinet for approval and then on to the Legislative Assembly for debate the public is being given the chance to comment on all three proposed pieces of legislation. Government said public submissions will be taken into account before a decision is made on the final reform of this legislative package.
Comments should be made in writing no later than 8 June
by mail to:
Cheryl Neblett, First Legislative Counsel, Portfolio of Legal Affairs
P.O. Box 1999
Grand Cayman KY1-1104
or delivered by hand to:
The offices of the Attorney General
5th floor, Government Administration Building
133 Elgin Avenue, George Town, Grand Cayman
or sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org