Adopting a Child in Jamaica

Over the past weeks, I have dialogued with a few professionals who have expressed their desire to adopt a child. Adoption is a very personal decision for prospective parents to make. It’s impossible to say there is one reason why people adopt — because, in actuality, every family chooses adoption for different reasons. Adoption is the process by which a child’s biological parental rights are transferred to another adult or a couple who will assume all the responsibilities of raising the child. In Jamaica, there are two types of adoption procedures:

  1. Application for an Adoption Order – this is required to complete an adoption locally
  2. Application for a Licence – this is required when seeking approval for the child to be released to citizens of scheduled countries to be adopted abroad.

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“What’s Yours Is Mine, What’s Mine Is Mine” – The issue of Matrimonial Property

During a divorce or separation, the question of matrimonial property division often arises as couples tend to argue about who spent more money when building the house or paying the mortgage and would therefore be entitled to be a bigger stake of the house. Matrimonial Property is defined in the Property (Rights of Spouses) Act (PROSA) as “any real or personal property, any estate or interest in real or personal property… or any other right or interest whether in possession or not to which the spouses or either of them is entitled.” From this definition, it is clear that property is not defined to mean only the family home. The only thing the law has done in relation to the family home, and not in relation to other property, is the presumption that that there be the automatic application of equal division or the “50-50 rule” unless good grounds exist to warrant a deviation from it (section 6 of the Act).

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Seeking child support in Jamaica: What You Should Know

It is probably a logical conclusion to assume that once a child is born, the persons who have come together to create a life should endeavour to provide for that life. This however is not the case and unfortunately many children simply are not given the financial assistance they require for their growth and development from both parents.The law is straightforward when it comes to this subject.

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Under the Maintenance Act (2005), every parent has an OBLIGATION to maintain the parent’s unmarried child who- (a) is a minor; or (b) is in need of such maintenance, by reason of physical or mental infirmity or disability. It is important to note that the grandparents may also have this duty in the event of the failure of the child’s parents to do so owing to death, physical or mental sickness or disability.

Once a parent neglects his or her responsibility to the child, you should not be afraid to seek maintenance for that child. Below are six steps in applying for maintenance:

  1. An application for child maintenance can be made at the Manchester Parish Court located at 2 Parks Crescent in Mandeville or any other Parish Court across the island. It is recommended that you ask an Attorney-at-Law to file the application on your behalf but you can also do this on your own.
  1. If you are applying on your own, speak to the Clerk of Courts who will process the documents.
  1. The court will issue a summons (a court document instructing a person against whom the claim is brought) informing them of the date they should attend court to hear the matter. Also included in the summons will be how much the applicant is requesting as payment for child maintenance.
  1. The summons is served on the individual. If the person cannot be located, then the matter will not be able to go before a Judge. However, if the summons is served and the person refuses to attend court on the date specified in the summons, then a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
  1. Once the summons has been served, both parents should appear in court on the appointed date and present their case before the Judge.
  1. The Judge, in considering the best interests of the child will proceed to make an order regarding maintenance and the amount which should be paid, how it should be paid, and when it should be paid- weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
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Don’t be afraid to seek Maintenance in the best interest of your child.

Written by: K. Whittaker