You can seek sole custody of your Bahamian child. It can be difficult, however, to convince a court that the other parent should not have some access to the child.
In general, Bahamian law permits both parents to a child born in wedlock to have a right of access to their child and considers both parents to be the child’s guardians. When considering custody and access issues, the court takes into account the past contribution of the parent to the care, maintenance and upbringing of the child. Child Protection Act, Section 14.
If you want to seek sole custody of your child, you will need to make an application to the court. The court will decide whether you should have sole custody and what right of access the other parent should have to the child. The court may decide to order that the non-custodial parent pay child support to the parent with custody.
Under Bahamian law the court must always consider the child’s welfare first in making decisions about custody. Child Protection Act, Section 3. Parents who abandon their children or who let someone else bring up their children for so long that they are unmindful of their parental duties often will not be given custody if they cannot show the court that they will be fit. Parents also must provide for their children (known as “maintenance” in the law), and parents who do not do so may be less fit for custody.
In divorce proceedings, the court may consider custody, access, and maintenance disputes between the divorcing couple. Divorces and separations cannot be finalized unless the court has found that arrangements for the welfare of all children involved are satisfactory or are the best under the circumstances, or that it is impracticable to decide as to the children. Alternatively, the court may grant the divorce or separation decree if there is urgency and decide matters relating to the children at a specified later time. See Matrimonial Causes Act.
To find out more about resolving custody disputes, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.
Have you been planning your legacy or thinking about the future? Whether you have a modest inheritance to pass to your family or a complicated estate with different types of property, consider some basic estate planning guidelines for everyone in The Bahamas. Not only can the suggestions below be helpful for you, but you can take your decisions to an attorney who can prepare the necessary documents.
First, think about the types of estate planning vehicles that would best preserve your assets to pass on to others. A trust can hold real property or money for growth over time and later distribution to a beneficiary. The trustee holds title to the property or the bank account while it increases in value or earns interest, and after a set time or at regular intervals disperses it to people of your choosing. Alternatively, a will is treated as if it was executed just before the testator’s death, and the bequests made in the will usually are one-time dispositions of money or property. Other vehicles may be available for you depending on your situation.
Second, think about who you want to receive your money and property after your death. If one of your planned beneficiaries is a minor, you may need to make special legal arrangements such as appointing a guardian to take care of the minor. A trust is often used to preserve the inheritance until the minor comes of age. If a planned beneficiary is disabled or needs medical care, consider whether you want to provide for care expenses. If you want more than one person to receive an item of property, decide what rights you want them to have – e.g., if one person dies, will the other take the entire property, or will the deceased beneficiary’s share go to their heirs. Also, consider what you want to happen if one of your beneficiaries or your executor dies before you do.
Third, ensure that you use appropriate documents and language to describe your assets and beneficiaries. This is easily accomplished by consulting with an attorney, who can help you draft the necessary items. Proper execution (signing and witnessing) of these documents can be critical to their later enforceability in court, and taking shortcuts can lead to disputes among beneficiaries.
Do not take chances with your legacy – consult an attorney who can advise you on your options and prepare the documents you need. To find out more, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.