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Filing for Divorce in the Bahamas

The divorce process can be a long, stressful and uncomfortable one. Even more stressful is if you are not aware…

The divorce process can be a long, stressful and uncomfortable one. Even more stressful is if you are not aware of your responsibilities during the process. Every country has its requirements, duration for the process but, in most cases, standard procedure. Here we explore the guidelines specific to the Bahamas and how you need to proceed. 

Laws concerning divorce can be found in section 16 of the Bahamas Matrimonial Causes Act. This act clearly states a wife or husband has the right to file for a divorce in the event:

  • The respondent has committed adultery during the marriage. 
  • The respondent has been or attempted to be violent towards the petitioner.
  • The respondent has abandoned the petitioner for two years directly before the divorce petition has been filed. 
  • The respondent has been in a homosexual act, sodomy, or has participated in sex with animals. 
  • The respondent and petitioner have lived separately for five years. These five years must be directly before the petition has been filed.
  • A wife may also file for divorce if her wife has raped or has attempted to rape her.  

At this point, the court will investigate not only the petitioner’s claims as in-depth as they possibly can. But they must also explore the counter-claims made by the respondent. 

What can the Bahamian court do?

You should know that the Bahamian court is not known for granting a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, as other countries sometimes do. 

While the court does not order the couple to have mediation, it is encouraged that the couple meets to discuss matters about the divorce to make the process smoother. If no consensus is reached, then the court may decide these matters. 

The court’s decisions may also include the children’s maintenance and placement and the division of assets and property. The court in the Bahamas can also instruct the parties to sell the marital home. 

Maintenance for a spouse in the Bahamian courts.

During a divorce proceeding, either partner can request maintenance from their spouse. However, whether it is granted depends on each specific circumstance and may differ from case to case. In a lot of issues, the maintenance ends once the final divorce decree has been granted.  

What if you did not get married in the Bahamas?

To qualify for divorce in the Bahamas, either husband or wife must be living in the Bahamas on the date the divorce proceedings begin. Both parties have been residing in the Bahamas up to three years before the divorce proceeding. 

What is the cost of a divorce in the Bahamas?

The cost of the divorce can vary depending on:

  • The lawyer or law firm you use
  • The specifications of the process
  • Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. 

On average, cost for a divorce in the Bahamas:

Uncontested Divorce – $1,850 – $2,000

Contested Divorce – $2,750 -$3,000

How long does a divorce take in the Bahamas?

On average, the process can take 3-4 months from the date the divorce package is filed with the court. Of course, duration is dependent on whether it is contested or not and if you have children and property to distribute. These discussions may take place in separate hearings, which will prolong the process of getting a divorce. 

The entire process simplified:

Once you have filed for a divorce, an initial letter will be sent to the respondent (the party not filing). The letter will tell of your intention for a divorce and encourage the respondent to seek legal counsel.

The divorce petition is sent to the respondent or their lawyer with information about how the divorce will be paid for, the provision and financial support of the petitioner, and the children involved. Once you receive a response, you will get an affidavit or sworn statement showing that you are proceeding with the divorce. 

Once the court sees cause for the divorce, the judge pronounces the ‘decree nisi’ for which you do not need to be present in court. The ‘decree nisi’ shows the court’s approval. The court will announce who needs to pay the legal fees if the parties have not yet decided. Then you can move to the final step. 

The final stage is the Decree Absolute. Once the specified time on the decree nisi has expired, the divorce can now be made absolute. This provides documentation for the world to see that you are no longer married.