It’s just a matter of jurisdiction…

One of the questions that your lawyer will consider for divorce proceedings is whether or not the courts have jurisdiction. I will consider some of the jurisdictional issues that may arise when a couple is getting divorced.

In Saint Lucia, divorce is governed largely by the Divorce Act Cap 4.03, in the Revised Laws of Saint Lucia 2001 and the Divorce Rules 1976. These two pieces of legislation outline what is required when a couple is getting divorced. Therefore, they are also useful to determine whether or not the Saint Lucian Courts have jurisdiction to grant a divorce.
            The two scenarios we will consider are:-

To show jurisdiction (in this context- the authority to grant the divorce), one or both of the parties must have some connection to the country, whether it is through domicile, habitual residence or ordinary residence. A good starting point is to understand the definitions of each of these terms.
Domicile is considered by birth, or origin; by operation of law and by choice. By operation of law or by choice, an individual is domicile in a country if he or she is a permanent resident (has been living in a country for a long period of time) and/ or is a citizen and has the intention of remaining there indefinitely.
Habitual residence is defined as where the resident usually lives, so it is not necessarily the place of the resident’s birth or origin. A person can only have one habitual residence, thereby having a physical presence in that country, and has been there for a specific period of time. On the other hand, ordinary residence is where he or she is normally resident even if the resident has another home in another country.
According to the Divorce Act section 18, in order for the Saint Lucian courts to have jurisdiction in a divorce; the wife must be domiciled in Saint Lucia, having been ordinarily resident here for three years prior to the start of the proceedings. This section only mentions the husband with reference to deportation or desertion. Although the Act alludes to a wife, it is clear with reference to the Divorce Rules that the Courts will grant a divorce for a husband in similar circumstances.
Further, it is clear that as long as one of the parties has a link to St. Lucia through domicile or residence, then the Saint Lucian courts would have jurisdiction. By that same token, if the couple were not married in Saint Lucia but they have permanent residence here, then the courts have jurisdiction.
There are numerous other situations in which the courts are likely to grant a divorce including:-

In response to the two scenarios at the outset, it can be concluded that -

One of the parties must be a Saint Lucian national and living in Saint Lucia for a period of at least one year for the courts to have jurisdiction; however, the courts also have jurisdiction with two non - Saint Lucian nationals who have been living in Saint Lucia for more than three years.

It is not essential to get a divorce in the country where you were married; at least this is the case in Saint Lucia. There must be, however, some connection to Saint Lucia, so a man from Canada and a woman from the United States living in the U.K cannot get divorced while on holiday in Saint Lucia. The courts would simply not have jurisdiction to do so in that case.
There are further jurisdictional issues to consider in terms of a conflict of laws; for example, in some countries the divorce must be conducted in the country where the marriage took place.