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Sunday, 19 May 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Pro Se Divorce Procedure
Q: Do I need
a Lawyer to file for a divorce? I don't have much money, so I'm wondering if I
can do it myself.
A: Yes, it
is possible to file for a divorce on your own, but due to the complexity of
many divorces, I will not recommend that anyone does this unless, of course,
they have a legal background. If not done properly, i.e., proper wording on
documents; use of correct forms; and having things done within the time frames and
signed by the right people, the outcome can be very adverse.
being said, the cost still remains an issue as the average Lawyer in Trinidad
and Tobago charges TT$5000/US$800/£530 to START proceedings. This price
will increase depending on the case's complexity, i.e., the involvement of
property, children, joint business venture and/or alimony.
The Pro Se Process: The spouse who files for the divorce is called the
Petitioner. The other spouse is called the Respondent.
If you are
the Petitioner, you will file a Petition for Divorce. The
Petitioner can get the divorce package from the Family Court.
If you are
the Respondent, the petition would have been already filed and you will
have been served; you now have to respond.
things to consider before filing a Petition for Divorce:
Where to file the Original Petition.
How to file.
Grounds for divorce
Notifying your spouse that you have filed for
File: The Family Court is located at Cipriani House, 4
Cipriani Boulevard, Port of Spain and can be contacted on 223-1060.
Tobago residents must use the Trinidad Family Court to file a divorce.
Petition for Divorce: After completing the petition and statement of
arrangements (if there are children involved), you have to hand deliver the
form with the ORIGINAL marriage certificate and pay the necessary fees, which
is around $100 for a simple divorce. Fees vary depending on pages and number of
separate applications included.
petition MUST be printed on both
sides of the paper (not one side per page) and two copies of the petition and
marriage certificate are required.
will stamp them with the date and file the original with the court. The two
copies will be date stamped and one returned to you for your files. The other
is used to notify the Respondent that a petition has been filed.
If you want
to get a divorce, you have to prove the irretrievably
breakdown of the marriage.
years of separation (need consent of Respondent)
years of separation (do not need consent of Respondent)
one spouse left the other without there being an agreement of
separation [The Family Court only accepts this application if done by an
important section is entitled “Particulars” because this is what the Judge
reads to decide whether or not the divorce should be granted. This is where the
Petitioner states the reasons why the marriage should end, giving specific
details of behaviour by the Respondent to prove this. The Petitioner CANNOT use his/her own behaviour as
examples. The easiest way to go about getting a divorce is to prove
unreasonable behaviour; e.g., adultery, abuse, or breach of trust. The
unreasonable behaviour MUST be
within the last 6 months, proof of which is needed, such as police reports,
texts, e-mails or pictures. I want to reiterate the fact that the “Particulars”
section is the MOST important part of the divorce petition, so the language
used must be clear, coherent and chronological.