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Islanders asked for views on divorce reform

21 November 2018

WeddingRing

​A 12-week consultation, which seeks islanders’ views on divorce reform, the future of civil partnerships and the age of marriage, has been launched today.

Divorce reform:  In September 2015, the States Assembly agreed in principle to replace the island’s existing 70-year-old divorce law. The consultation is seeking views on:

  • removing the three-year bar on divorce - at the moment spouses have to be married for three years before filing for divorce
  • moving to ‘no fault divorce’ – where couples can get divorced without having to prove their spouse was at fault
  • introducing joint filing – currently one spouse must divorce the other, even when they both agree their marriage has ended
  • removing the ability to contest a divorce

Future of civil partnerships: In June 2018, the UK Supreme Court ruled that it is discriminatory to only allow same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership. Islanders are invited to give their views on whether 

  • civil partnerships should be extended to opposite sex couples, in addition to same sex couples; or
  • civil partnerships should be closed to new couples.

Age of marriage: The United Nations Committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child has recommended that Jersey prohibits marriage for those aged 16 and 17. Islanders are asked for their views on raising the minimum age of marriage to 18.

Home Affairs Minister, Connétable Len Norman, said: “I wish to consult islanders about three family law matters. The first is our current divorce law, which was introduced in 1949 and which doesn’t properly reflect how people live today. It also does little to minimise conflict or support reconciliation, which isn’t right for either divorcing couples or for their children.” 

“The second is the future of civil partnerships in Jersey. At the moment, only same-sex couples can have a civil partnership in Jersey. That is discriminatory. I would like to know if islanders want to extend civil partners to all couples or, now that same-sex couples can get married, close civil partnerships to new couples. We wouldn’t abolish civil partnership altogether, because that would be unfair on those who are already in a civil partnership”.

“I also want to know islanders’ views on allowing marriages with young people who are 16 and 17 years old. The oversight Committee of the United Nations’ Convention on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which applies in Jersey, refers to marriage of those under 18 as ‘child marriage’. I’d therefore like to know what islanders would think about raising Jersey’s minimum age for marriage to 18.”

Islanders are encouraged to have their say. Anyone who would like to give their views can read the consultation details online, and answer the questions in the online survey. Alternatively, islanders can send an email or letter, or attend one of three public meetings. 

The meetings will be held at St Paul’s Centre and will take place on

  • Tuesday 22 January, from 6.30pm to 8pm
  • Wednesday 23 January, from 12pm to 1.30pm
  • Thursday 24 January, from 6.30pm to 8pm.

Written submissions should be emailed to b.sandeman3@gov.je or sent to

Ben Sandeman
Cyril Le Marquand House
The Parade
St Helier
JE4 8QT

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