In Trinidad, Child care is one topic that is taken seriously. Provisions have been made where a parent or someone responsible may file for a child’s sole custody. In Trinidad, most children’s matters are done under the Family Law Act (Guardianship of minor, Domicile, and maintenance). Which primarily allows both parents to have legal access to their children. However, in exceptional cases, a parent or guardian may think it is in the child’s best interest to file to the court for sole custody.
Where to start in filing for sole custody in Trinidad?
- Under the land laws, it is a Justice of the Peace or Clerk of the Peace at the Magistrates’ Court in your district that has to find justifiable reasoning to present the matter of sole custody to the court.
- The filing must be done with a court with authority to work on these matters, including a family court or supreme court.
- After an application has been made, they then send the case for a summons to be prepared for issues.
- The call to court is sent to the parent that is not filing with the subject, date, and time they need to appear in court.
- If both parents agree beforehand, the issue may not need to reach a judge. Instead, the matter could be settled in front of a representative of the land.
Documents needed would include:
- Married certificate (If you were legally married)
- Any valid identification
- General information of the respondent including, name and address.
- The child or children’s birth certificate for whom you are filing
- Institution and name of the school the child or children is currently attending.
- A fee of $3TT for the application processing
- An additional $1TT fee for the Witness summons served
While additional paperwork may be needed, those listed above are the basics.
The date you will appear in court is usually 4 to 6 weeks after your application has been made. Usually, the summons is sent to the nearest police station to the respondent’s address. The parent filing should ensure that the parent’s name and address, not filing, is correct, so the summons serving process can be done smoothly.
If the summon is not yet served on the court date, your application will receive a later court date, further delaying the process.
General concerns of the court include:
- Where the child wants to live, given they are old enough to make this decision.
- The ability of the parents to provide financially for the child
- The current living arrangement of the child.
- How each parent contributes to the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of the child.
You should note, no court ruling in cases of child custody is set in stone. A parent has the right to appeal and even re-apply if they were uncomfortable with the courts’ decisions.