July 16, 2020

New Children’s Law comes into effect

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child-protection-5Last Monday (29) new rules for the protection of children came into effect as a result of the passage of the Children Law last July.

Officials from the courts said the newly issued Children Law Rules and Allocation Order form a part of Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s proposals to reform the family services offered by the courts. The rules and forms will help to ensure that the interests of all parties are properly taken into account and decisions are made on the basis of the best interests of the children involved, the court stated.

The Family Division of the Grand Court was created in 2009 in recognition of the different needs of parties to family proceedings and of the greater emphasis on encouraging parties to work out their own solutions wherever possible. An important step in the development of the law and practice has been the implementation of the Children Law, enacted in 2003 but brought into force in 2012. The law is now set out in the Children Law (2012 Revision).

Family proceedings include all issues arising from marriage and divorce, issues arising from the need for financial support for spouses or children following divorce, separation or in cases where the parents were not married to each other and generally, issues concerning the welfare of children. The welfare of any child involved in such proceedings is the paramount consideration; this is equally applicable to ‘private law’ proceedings (those between the parents of the child or wider family) and to ‘public law’ proceedings (those where the Government seeks orders).

The Children Law and related rules and forms are on this website; a guide to the orders possible under this law and what you should do to start proceedings or to respond to proceedings started by somebody else is under Guidance Resouces – Applying under the Children Law at:

www.judicial.ky/wp-content/uploads/pdf/children-rules/Making-an-application-within-the-Children-and-Family-Courts%20-%20Draft18April2013.pdf

It is often difficult to decide what to do when there is a problem in the family; help and support is available from many sources and a good place to start is the Family Resource Centre – see www.frc.gov.ky.

If an issue can be resolved only by a court, it is often best to talk to an attorney at an early stage. If you do not know an attorney who specialises in this type of work, contact the Cayman Islands Law Society for a list of names. It usually works best if those involved with the care of a child can agree amongst themselves on what is best. Mediation can help parties do this. A skilled facilitator helps people talk about issues that they have and explore if it is possible to find a way that is acceptable to everyone.

The court will encourage parties to agree between themselves but, if that is not possible, we will try to get the case to court quickly; the first hearing of a case in the Grand Court is usually within 28 days. If the case cannot be resolved then a timetable will be set for the next stages and it is important that everyone involved does what is required of them to make sure that the matter concludes quickly.

If you want to know about applying for financial support for yourself or for a child, or for legal aid where the welfare of a child is at risk, court staff can help you fill in the forms that you need; telephone 949 9856 or e-mail: http://www.judicial.ky/contact-us

The initiative is led by Justice Richard Williams, who has been asked by the Chief Justice to serve as judge for the case management of all family and children cases coming before the Grand Court.

Justice Williams said, “Regrettably, here in the Cayman Islands like everywhere else, there are a significant number of divorces as well as many children born to parents who are not married to each other. The biggest single factor in a child’s adjustment to the parents’ divorce or separation is how well the parents restructure their relationship to continue to meet the needs of the child; overall the Law and the Rules focus on what children need and how parents can be helped to better meet these needs during and after relationship break down.”

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