The Cayman Islands government have proposed three draft bills to modernise matrimonial and family legislation in the Islands. The relevant drafts are The Matrimonial Causes Bill, The Family Property (Rights of Spouses) Bill and The Maintenance Bill.
One of the most talked about changes is the proposed introduction of an ‘irreconcilable differences’ ground for divorce. Under the current law, the only non-fault based divorce grounds are, two years separation by consent and 5 years separation (no consent required). This means that parties who have not been separated for at least two years, and who wish to divorce sooner would have to file for divorce on one of the fault based grounds (unreasonable behaviour being the most commonly relied on). Sometimes parties are reluctant to rely on a fault based ground, or are unable to prove the ground. The proposed change would mean that parties could file for what has been dubbed a ‘no fault divorce’ regardless of how long they are separated (if at all).
If approved, perhaps the most significant changes will be brought about by The Family Property (Rights of Spouses) Bill which seeks to define and regulate the terms on which matrimonial (or family) property should be divided upon the breakdown of a relationship. Importantly, it seeks to deal with property rights for both married and unmarried individuals. Another very notable change will be the recognition of pre-nuptial agreements. The current legislation is silent on the effect of nuptial agreements, and local case law has not yet had to address issues surrounding the enforcement of such agreements since the landmark UK Supreme Court decision in Radmacher v Granatino  UKSC 42.
There will no doubt be further discussion and commentary regarding the many proposed changes in the coming weeks before the legislation is submitted to Cabinet for approval.