If you are considering whether to file for divorce in The Bahamas, learn the basics about the divorce process first. Separating and ending a marriage can be extremely painful for the whole family. Going through an unfamiliar court proceeding could make it worse, unless you know what to expect.
In the Bahamas, you may seek either a judicial separation or a divorce. A judicial separation may be sought on the same grounds as for a divorce, described below. In contrast to divorced spouses, legally separated spouses do not have to live in the same home but are still legally married – the separation does not dissolve the marriage. However, it does effectively dissolve inheritance rights for the husband in the marriage from the date of the judicial separation. See Matrimonial Causes Act.
A spouse seeking a divorce files a petition with the court, requesting a divorce on one or more grounds including:
- desertion for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before filing the petition
- living separately for a continuous period of at least five years immediately before filing the petition
- sexual relations with an animal
- rape by the husband
When a claim of adultery is made, the court may include the adulterer as a respondent to the application. Also, Bahamian courts do not grant divorces for irreconcilable differences, as do courts in some other jurisdictions.
After filing an application for divorce, the court will review the alleged facts and the grounds for the sought divorce, usually at a hearing. The court looks for any improper motives by the spouses or any acceptance of the respondent's behavior by the petitioner. The court also reviews any counter-charges made by the respondent against the petitioner.
If the court thinks that there is a reasonable likelihood of reconciliation in the marriage, it can stop the divorce proceedings so that the spouses can attempt to reconcile. The court must also satisfy itself that suitable arrangements are made for any minor children of the divorcing couple prior to making an order to dissolve the marriage.
To find out more about divorce law in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.