In a world of brittle marriages, legislation has proven to be the avenue to dissolve unions. In Trinidad and Tobago, the five main grounds of divorce are adultery, abuse, abandonment, extended separation for two or five years. A couple can only apply for a divorce exactly one year after tying the knot. Child custody can include several perspectives, including juvenile custody and parental custody.
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Under the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act, Chapter 45:51 is the law which rules over the terms of divorce, legal separation, nullifying of marriages, and delegation and division of property. The spouse who is requesting divorce has to prove that the marriage has broken down to such an extent, that the relationship cannot be mended. Once the court has received the divorce petition, the parties must live apart for a period of two to five years. In Trinidad and Tobago, given the multi-ethnicity of the nation, the courts of Trinidad and Tobago honours and confirms the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act and the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act as legally binding.
Nullification and Reconciliation
In Trinidad and Tobago, declaring a marriage null and void is feasible if the marriage has not been consummated due to incapacity or blatant refusal. If the possibility arises during the divorce proceeding that both husband and wife can reach a reconciliation, divorce would be put on hold.
Children Act and Infant Act
The Children Act, Chapter 46:01, and the Infants Act, Chapter 46:02, mandates the treatment of minors, arranges child custody division, and penalises those who would threaten the life and welfare of children. If anyone has custody of a child and wilfully neglects, hurts, abuses, exploits or deflowers the child, the offender has to pay a fine of £6,500 and/or be subject to a two-year prison term or a £3,250 and a six-month prison term. In cases of incarceration, a juvenile cannot be in custody with an adult criminal.
Family Law Act
When a couple files for divorce, the father can submit an application for paternity order. Under the Family Law Act, a parent can make an official request for legal custody under the Orders for Custody and Maintenance subsection. This law authorises the award of guardianship, maintains the equality of both parents, name changes and child support.
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- Embassy of the United States Trinidad and Tobago: Divorce in Trinidad and Tobago
- Ministry of Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago: Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act Chapter 45:51
- Ministry of Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago: Children (Child Custody)
- Ministry of Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago: The Infants Act Chapter 46:02 pg 4
- Trinidad and Tobago Legal Affairs: Guardianship of minors, domicile, and maintenance act