International Divorce & Family Law: Barbados
With its colonial past and history of membership of the Commonwealth, Barbados and the courts there are still influenced to a degree by English law and custom. The country also draws on the legal traditions of other Commonwealth countries such as Australia when deciding family law matters.
A strong connection remains between Barbados and the UK. Many Barbadians choose to settle in the UK, a steady number of UK tourists get married on the island and many other UK nationals reside there.
The interaction between the legal systems of the two countries can sometimes lead to complications when an individual with connections to Barbados is considering divorce. We act for UK citizens who may have been married in Barbados or who are living there and wish to divorce under English law. We also act for Barbadians and others with a connection to the country but resident in the UK who need advice on international aspects of divorce law.
We discuss some specific aspects of family law in Barbados below.
Grounds For Divorce In Barbados
To obtain a divorce in Barbados it’s necessary to demonstrate that:
- The marriage has irretrievably broken down
- Spouses have been separated for at least a year
- Appropriate child arrangements are in place
If the court believes there is a reasonable prospect of reconciliation it will not grant a divorce.
Financial Settlements Folowing Barbadian Divorce
Section 53(2) of the Family Law Act deals with maintenance and the factors the court takes into account when determining the amount of any payment. Some of these echo the Matrimonial Causes Act ‘section 25 factors’ applicable under English law. The legislation is also influenced by the laws applicable in Commonwealth jurisdictions like Australia.
The factors include:
- Age and state of health of the spouses
- Financial resources and possibility of employment
- Responsibility for a child of the marriage
- Financial needs
- Eligibility of either party for a pension or other allowance
The way property is divided following a Barbadian divorce will depend on the court’s interpretation of section 57 of the Family Law Act (‘alteration of property interests’). In the case of Proverbs v Proverbs (2002) Chief Justice Sir David Simmons set out the correct approach to take when deciding how to divide property on divorce. He indicated it involved a three-stage process as follows:
- Identifying ALL property owned by the divorcing couple
- Valuing the property (the date for valuation is the date of the court hearing)
- Assessing the financial contribution made to the acquisition, conservation or improvement of the property by any party. Acting as a ‘homemaker’ and parent will be regarded as a contribution where appropriate.
Once each side’s contribution to the value of any property has been agreed the court will decide the division of assets using the factors in section 53(2) referred to above.
Children And Divorce In Barbados
In common with England and Wales the courts in Barbados will look at what is in the best interests of the child when deciding residence, contact and other arrangements. In doing so judges in Barbados will consider issues such as the age and sex of the child and the child’s compatibility with each parent.
In 2019 Barbados joined the Hague Convention on Child Abduction and the Convention on Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility Orders. This should make enforcing any child arrangements order form an English court for example more straightforward in Barbados than might have been the case in the past.
Advice On Divorce In Barbados
Any international divorce, including one with a Barbadian angle will involve crucial tactical decisions at the outset to ensure the most appropriate court hears the case.
We act for Barbadian nationals in the UK and British citizens with a connection to Barbados, advising them on all aspects of their divorce and related matters.
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