In this article, we address some questions which frequently come up regarding the divorce process in St. Lucia.
How do I start the process of divorce?
The process of divorce begins with the filing of a petition for divorce at the Court. The person who files the petition is called the Petitioner and the person against whom the petition is filed is called the Respondent.
Who can file a petition for divorce?
Either spouse, wife or husband, may file a petition for divorce.
Do the spouses need to be principally resident in St. Lucia?
At least one spouse must be principally resident in St. Lucia.
A wife, whose husband is not resident in St. Lucia, may file a petition for divorce if she has been resident in St. Lucia for 3 years immediately preceding the petition. There is no similar requirement in respect of a husband who files a petition for divorce.
Is there a time period for which I must be married before I can get divorced?
Yes. You must be married for at least 5 years at the time of filing the petition, otherwise you will need the Court’s permission to file a petition.
The Court may allow a person to file a petition for divorce where they have suffered exceptional hardship, or exceptional depravity at the hands of their spouse, having regard to the interests of any child of the family and whether there is a probability of reconciliation.
On what basis can I get a divorce?
The sole ground on which a decree of divorce may be granted is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
The Petitioner proves that the marriage has broken down irretrievably by providing facts to support any one or more of the following:
- That the Respondent has committed adultery and the Petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the Respondent
- That the Respondent has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent
- That the Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the petition
- That the Petitioner and Respondent have lived apart, that is, they have not lived with each other in the same household, for a continuous period of at least 5 years immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
Importantly if adultery is relied on, the alleged adulterer or adulteress must generally be specifically named and made a party to the proceedings.
If the Court is satisfied on the evidence adduced by the Petitioner and Respondent, that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, the Court grants a decree nisi of divorce.
Can I obtain a decree nisi if my husband and I have not made arrangements for the children?
Where there are children of the family, in addition to satisfying the Court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, the Court must be satisfied, prior to granting the decree nisi, that satisfactory arrangements for the welfare of the children have been made.
Is my divorce final after a grant of a decree nisi?
No. The dissolution of the marriage is made final by a grant of decree absolute.
When can I obtain the decree absolute?
The decree absolute can only be granted if 3 months have lapsed since the grant of the decree nisi, unless the Court shortens this period to 6 weeks.
The decree absolute is obtained on an application to the Court by either party.
How do we resolve disputes regarding children, maintenance and property?
Any dispute concerning arrangements for children, spousal and child maintenance, property and related matters are resolved on application to the Court, which application can generally be made at any time after presentation of the petition.
FLOISSAC, DUBOULAY & THOMAS provides this information for educational purposes only. It should not be construed or relied on as legal advice or to create a lawyer-client relationship. This guidance note is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular situation and you should not act upon this information without seeking advice from a lawyer. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.