Letters to the Editor: Family law reform under fire

I note with interest the proposals for the new family law reform. However, it distresses me that some of the proposals simply are not workable in this jurisdiction.

I intend to go through the matter very carefully and write to the commission with a copy to you but an obvious mistake or omission must be that the legislations in Bermuda, Malta, Gibraltar are not being compared with the legislation in Cayman. This is the sort of jurisdiction that has a transient population and access across the seas etc. must be addressed much more carefully than for example in a continent like Australia, a country like New Zealand or Japan. We have particularly difficult problems as to cross border access etc., which I am sure must be the same sort of problem suffered by Malta, Gibraltar, Bermuda and other overseas territories. With respect, Barbados does not have the same transient population as we do and therefore to compare Jamaica, Barbados etc. is good but not always helpful.

The concern also is that the persons who form this commission are hardly those that are capable of isolating and identifying the problems relating to family law. One never comes to court. The other does not practice family law and I don’t believe has for many years, if at all. The third one is a criminal lawyer. Nobody on that board save and except for one attorney who I believe announced her retirement some two years ago has any experience at family law and it is unfortunate that proposals like this were made without further consultation.

Consulting now at this stage is a little late but why is it that the one attorney alone who practiced family law is a commissioner. There must be other persons who can be put onto the board when a certain topic is being reformed such as criminal law or related matters and with respect I am not sure that the one family attorney keeps up with all the latest trends in the law. Whilst we can retain the fundamental principles of English law, our jurisdiction presents particular problems that need to be addressed.

Family Law is fundamental to the well being of our nation and young people. In my view it should not be left to non-practioners of family law who clearly unaware of the practical difficulties faced.

Ezmie Smith

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1 COMMENT

  1. Ms Smith doesn’t say much about the merits or otherwise of the proposed reforms themselves. There are two key issues in play – firstly, should Cayman adopt the principle of no-fault divorce, and second should the law give financial rights and protection to people in unmarried relationships?

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