End of marital relationship checklist
The information given should not be relied on as legal advice. If you want legal advice you should contact a lawyer. Legal Aid may be available. Additional information can be found on other Citizens Advice Jersey information pages by clicking on the links provided.
How long have you been married?
Minimum of three years is required before petitioning for divorce. No time limit for Judicial Separation. Need grounds for divorce nullity or judicial separation.
How long have you lived on the island?
The parties to the marriage must be domiciled in Jersey for one year before proceedings are instituted or either of the parties was habitually resident in Jersey throughout the year leading up to the date when proceedings are begun.
On what basis is the divorce being sought?
Specific grounds – see Divorce
- 1 year separation – with consent.
- 2 years separation – without consent
- Freehold or Flying freehold/Share Transfer property – different ways in which you can own property in Jersey
- Entitled/Licensed status – different categories of residential status under Jersey law. Your status affects the type of property you can live in or job you can do
- Population Office – the Government office that is responsible for deciding the residential status
Freehold or Flying Freehold
If the property was purchased in joint names, either spouse can remain in the property if they have Entitled or Licenced status. If a spouse without the required status wishes to remain, they should seek permission from the Population Office.
If neither spouse is Entitled and only one has Licensed status, only that spouse may live in the property.
If the property was purchased in the sole name of the spouse who has Entitled Status, the other party may be able to remain in the property on their own with the permission of the Population Office. See Ending relationships and housing
Share Transfer Property
The spouse who remains in the property must have Entitled or Licensed status.
Who is the tenant? Private or Public Sector?
Only Licensed or Entitled parties may remain living in Entitled rental accommodation.
Each party has an obligation to maintain each other and their children. It will usually be better for the parent with care of the children to remain in the property but not always. It is possible to remain in the same property while separated but the parties have to lead completely separate lives, separate shopping, washing, cooking, cleaning and sharing expenses. Legal advice is essential if they wish to subsequently divorce on the grounds of separation.
Both parents automatically have parental responsibility provided they were married to each other at the time of the birth.
An unmarried father can apply to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order or the parties can enter into a parental responsibility agreement and have it registered with the Judidical Greffe. An unmarried father whose name is on the birth certificate automatically obtains parental responsibility for children born on or after 2nd December 2016.
There is a principle of no Order in children matters but any parent may apply for a Residence Order if they cannot agree with whom the children will live. The court’s decision on who the child will live with will be guided by a report from the Jersey Courts Family Advisory Service (JFCAS). Mediation may be a less expensive option. Please see Family Mediation Jersey.
A Residence Order may be made in respect of more than one person and if so the order will state the periods in which the child will reside in each household. People other than parents (e.g. grandparents) can apply for a residence order with the permission of the court.
There is again a principle of no Order in respect of contact, but if matters cannot be agreed, an application can be made. For more information see Parental responsibility/Residence Order/Contact.
- Injunction – a court order preventing someone from doing something e.g. harassing a person. Can also have an injunction preventing someone from visiting a certain place or living in a certain place. Legal Aid may be available for an injunction.
- Recording evidence – Injure Capture app, doctor’s evidence, Police evidence.
- Support – Women’s Refuge, Victim Support, Independent Domestic Abuse Advisor, Police.
Parties should notify the Comptroller of Taxes when they separate. They can opt to be assessed separately even if they do not divorce. Care should be taken to ensure the tax allowances are allocated to the correct party.
Income Support may be available.
One party may be entitled to spousal or child maintenance from the other.
Contributions – Jersey law requires everyone living in Jersey to pay a percentage of their income in social security contributions.
In order to be eligible for contributory benefits, each party to the marriage should pay full contributions. If a wife has been paying reduced contributions, she should contact Customer and Local Services to change to paying full contributions.
Occupational or private pension
Divorce settlement – final financial agreement that is reached as part of divorce proceedings.
Pensions are taken into account in financial settlements on divorce. There is no pension sharing in Jersey but the value of a pension (suitably discounted because it is a future rather than a current asset) can be off-set against other assets. Legal advice is recommended.
It is sensible for each party to have a separate bank account. Some banks will freeze a joint account if they become aware that the parties are separating.
Division of Assets
For a financial settlement, the parties both need to know the extent of the assets in each sole name or joint names and the values. The starting point for division is 50/50 but this starting point may be departed from depending on the circumstances e.g. inheritance, contribution, caring responsibilities, income needs, disability, age, earning capacity and in some cases, conduct. Marital agreements are also taken into account.
Parties looking to divorce are advised to seek legal advice. Legal Aid may be available to those on a low income but there may still be a contribution necessary. In order to keep legal costs down, consider using a mediation service such as Family Mediation Jersey and use the time spent with the lawyer wisely e.g. prepare questions, keep a record of answers. Make your own photocopies, research etc.
A list of lawyers who have an interest in family Law is available at Lawyers-specialist lawyers. Some firms will provide free information sessions. It is usual for each party to be responsible for their own legal costs.
Where parties separate, the date of separation is when they began to live apart. There is no need for any formal notification of this date if they are agreed. It is wise to agree interim (or even final) financial arrangements during separation.
Final financial arrangements cannot be ordered by the court unless there is a divorce or judicial separation. A judicial separation is a way to obtain a financial settlement when there can’t be a divorce because the parties have not been married for 3 years or because a divorce is ruled out due to religious reasons. See also Judicial and legal separation.
The parties must not resume cohabitation during the period of separation. If they do, the period of separation for a separation divorce petition has to start again.