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Divorce in Bermuda

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  • Divorce in Bermuda

    As a Bermudian, I was married in Canada to a Canadian some nine years ago. After six years of separation we both just found out that we can not get a divorce in Canada (we live in Bermuda) unless one of us lives there for at least six months. Also, almost six years ago we settled all financial and material assets (no children) after separating. Now we need to find out if we can get a divorce from the Bermuda courts as I am a citizen, and she has long term residency. Also, is it possible for the two of us to be represented by the same lawyer to process the necessary documents to file in Bermuda as we both will be sharing the cost? Or can this process be done by one of us, and not have any lawyers involved? Thank you for any advise you may have, and any suggestions as to who we should seek in resolving this issue.

  • #2
    Re: Divorce in Bermuda

    Divorce in Bermuda is based upon the UK legal system. There are very few grounds for divorce and there is no such thing as NO FAULT divorce as in USA and Canada, or even other jurisdictions. Divorce can be quick but the ancillary relief phase where you deal with alimony, division of assets, and the financial settlement phase can be costly and take a long time if you and your ex are unable to work things out together.


    • #3
      Re: Divorce in Bermuda

      The grounds for divorce in the Bahamas are set forth in the Bahamas Matrimonial Causes Act.

      Section 16 of the Act provides as follows:

      "16. (1) A petition for divorce may be presented to the court either by the husband or the wife on any of the following grounds that the respondent

      (a) has since the celebration of the marriage committed adultery; or

      (b) has since the celebration of the marriage treated the petitioner with cruelty; or

      (c) has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or

      (d) has lived separate and apart from the petitioner for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petitioner; or

      (e) has, since the celebration of the marriage been guilty of a homosexual act, sodomy or has had sexual relations with an animal

      A wife may also petition on the ground that her husband has since such celebration been guilt of rape.

      (2) On a petition for divorce presented by the husband on the ground of adultery or in any other pleading praying for divorce on that ground, the husband shall make the alleged adulterer a co-respondent unless excused by the court on special grounds from doing so.

      (3) On a petition for divorce presented by the wife on the ground of adultery, the court may, if it thinks fit, direct that the alleged adulteress be made a respondent.

      (4) On a petition for divorce it shall be the duty of the court

      (a) to inquire, so far as it reasonably can, into the facts alleged and whether there has been any connivance or condonation on the part of the petitioner and whether any collusion exists between the parties; and
      (b) to inquire into any counter charges made against the petitioner.

      (5) For the purposes of subsection (1)(c) the court may treat a period of desertion as having continued at a time when the deserting party was incapable of continuing the necessary intention if the evidence before the court is such that, had that party not been so incapable, the court would have inferred that his desertion continued at that time.

      (6) In considering for the purposes of subsection (1) whether the period for which the respondent has deserted the petitioner or has lived separate and apart from the petitioner has been continuous, no account shall be taken of any one period (not exceeding three months) or of any two or more periods (not exceeding three months in all) during which the parties resumed cohabitation but no period during which the parties cohabited shall count as part of the period of desertion or the period for which they lived separate and apart, as the case may be.

      (7) Subject to subsection (8) no petition for divorce other than that based on facts existing, and constituting a ground for divorce, prior to the coming into operation of this subsection shall be presented to the court before the expiration of the period of two years from the date of marriage (hereinafter in this section referred to as the specified period).

      (8) The court may, on application made to it, allow the presentation of a petition for divorce within the specified period on it being satisfied that there is no reasonable probability of a reconciliation during the specified period.

      (9) If it appears to the court, at the hearing of a petition for divorce presented in pursuance of leave granted under subsection (8) that the leave was obtained by the petitioner by any misrepresentation the court may

      (a) dismiss the petition, without prejudice to any petition which may be brought after the expiration of the specified period upon the same facts, or substantially the same facts, as those proved in support of the dismissed petition; or

      (b) if it grants a decree, direct that no application to make the decree absolute shall be made during the specified period.

      (10) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the presentation of a petition based upon matters which occurred before the expiration of the specified period.

      (11) If at any stage of proceedings for divorce it appears to the court that there is a reasonable probability of reconciliation between the parties to the marriage, the court may, without prejudice to any other power, adjourn the proceedings for such period as it thinks fit to enable attempts to be made to effect such reconciliation.

      Section 2 of the Act includes the following definitions:

      Cruelty includes voluntary conduct reprehensible in nature or which is a departure from the normal standards of conjugal kindness on the part of one party to a marriage thereby occasioning injury to the health of the other spouse or a reasonable apprehension of it on the part of that other spouse and being conduct which, after taking due account of all the circumstances of the case, would be considered to be so grave and weighty a nature that should such other spouse be called upon to continue to endure it, would be detrimental to his or her health.

      Desertion includes behaviour without cause or excuse on the part of one party to a marriage towards the other spouse whereby it can reasonably be concluded that that party intended through such behaviour to bring the matrimonial consortium to an end."

      If no fault divorce is desired, returning to Canada and setting up residency there to meet the requirements of the province in which you settle [each province has a different set of laws for divorce], might be a better option if grounds for divorce are not found under Bahamian law.


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