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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 102362
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Hi, I am a US citizen living in Jamaica, because 15 years ago

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Hi, I am a US citizen living in Jamaica, because 15 years ago my husband and I got married and have a retail business here. During the 15 years, we had two children, grew the business to four stores, helped out in the business and never got any compensation on my part for it. Now that we are having marital issues, he's now saying that I have done nothing in the Business, I dont work in the business and that he will not support me and my children, because he has me living in his and his mother's house for the last 13yrs. She has made my life a living hell in the house, but I brushed that aside for those years. My questions is what do I need to do and what would I be entitled to as a spouse. I really just want to get out of his mothers house and have a place of my own that I can raise my children. The children want to stay in Jamaica to finish school first before moving back to the USA. However, I need to get a divorce because I dont want to be attached to this Family anymore. I would appreciate any Legal advise.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Ely replied 6 years ago.

Welcome to JustAnswer and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. Please remember that there might be a delay between your follow up questions and my answers because I may be helping other clients or taking a break.

I am sorry for your situation. I do not believe we currently have any Jamaican experts, but I am well-versed in international law, which includes common law (Jamaica follows this doctrine). However, I am US licensed. I can help you if you'd like.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I appreciate you help. What I need to know is where do I stand with the Laws here in Jamaica, and me being a US Citizen. My husband is angry and bitter, because I was the one that took care of the household and finances, and I never took a salary or paid myself. However now he's accusing me of stealing his money, in which I never did, nor does he have proof of this. And that he has built a roof over my head, so I have to think of the kids and live in the same house with him and his mother. I just want to peacefully move, be on my own to raise my children, and have his financial support. At this point I have been cut off from all finances, the car, and everything else. One might say I am a prisoner in his house.


Expert:  Ely replied 6 years ago.
Jamaican laws do not discriminate against non-Jamaican citizens, so you have every right like anyone else in Jamaica. Jamaican family courts follow the same common law doctrine and practices that UK and US courts do, which means that their procedures often parallel those of the US and UK. What you have to do is get temporary orders into place, either stand-alone or within the divorce filing (if it has not yet already been filed. This is done by petitioning the court for temporary orders in regards XXXXX XXXXX custody and splitting of assets. Spousal support is not automatic in Jamaica if both spouses are capable of supporting themselves, but if you NEED spousal support, you can ask the Court and the court will decide based on a case by case basis. The courts follow a “best interest of the child” idea, meaning that the parent who would be best for the child would usually get custody (likely you - Jamaican courts are highly biased against fathers in custody); child support is routine, and fathers are more likely to be ordered to pay support than mothers. Mothers are also more likely to obtain custody than fathers in a Jamaican divorce. Property follows a common law doctrine of community property, meaning that roughly, the following will be applied: Separate property and debt is property that is generally:

1. Owned before marriage by one spouse; or

2. Acquired by gift or will or similar legal way by spouse during marriage; or

3. Declared as such by prenup or postup; or

4. Traceable property purchased by one spouse only; or

5. Tort Recovery for personal injury, but not medical expenses or loss of earning capacity.

Separate property and debt is awarded to the party which had claim to it in accordance with the rules above.

Community Property and debt is everything else, including but not limited to:

1. Income from BOTH parties; or

2. Declared as such by prenup and postup; or

3. Gift from one spouse to another; or

4; All titled and non-titled property gathered during marriage.

However, Jamaican courts have been known to be subjective and to blur the lines to make the split more fair. You should get a percentage of the business, and he would either be ordered to pay you it or, to run the business together if you can.Therefore, ask the Court for spousal and child support in temporary orders while awaiting an Order Nisi (first hard order for divorce in Jamaica). I would HIGHLY recommend an attorney, and the US Consulate keeps a record of affordable attorneys on the Island for US Residents - call them and get into contact with an advocate.I hope you found my answer helpful, and if so please click on the ACCEPT button. This is the only way for me to get credit for my work; I receive no credit for my time with you unless you press ACCEPT.

If you still need to clarify something or seek more information, just use the INFO button and I’d be more than happy to follow up to your satisfaction! There is no fee for follow up questions after an accept should you wish to continue in this thread and I encourage you to do so should you need clarification!

While the legal system tries to be inclusive of every possibility, sometimes, people are ethically wronged but have limited legal avenues seek relief. If so, please understand that this is not the expert’s fault, but the way of circumstance.

If you feel that I went an extra step to help, a bonus is always appreciated!

You can always request me for a future advice through my profile at If you do this, make sure to begin the question with “This Question is for Eli…”

Edited by Eli on 1/1/2011 at 10:25 PM EST
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