Isle of Man residents are being invited to give their opinion on changing the divorce process on the Isle of Man.

The public consultation launched today on https://consult.gov.im/ seeks views on moving to a modern process that would enable a couple to apply jointly for a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership without having to state the reason why.

Significantly a couple could finalise their divorce in 26 weeks if the proposed legislation is approved. At present if both couples agree to divorce they must wait two years; where one party does not agree to divorce the separation period is five years. A divorce can be achieved more quickly where ‘fault’ is agreed – where one partner takes the blame for adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

Garff MHK Daphne Caine was given leave to introduce a Private Member’s Bill in October 2018 that sought ‘to amend the grounds for divorce, dissolution of civil partnerships and judicial separation; and for connected purposes’.

Mrs Caine said: ‘Divorce is acknowledged as one of the most stressful life events a person can experience, second only to the death of a loved one.

‘However, once couples have decided to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership, the process can be a lengthy one and have a long term negative impact on the couple and on children in particular. The purpose of bringing forward this Bill is to make divorcing a more honest, simpler and less stressful process.’

The public consultation reveals the island’s recent divorce statistics:

These show that in the past three years ‘fault’ based divorces – where the cause was given as adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour – have been around 56 to 61% – similar to England’s average of 60%.

However, in Scotland where no fault divorces are available, the figure is closer to six per cent for fault based divorces.

Family law advocate Hazel Smith commented:  ‘Ethical family lawyers sign up to a code of practice which requires us to seek to minimise conflict during the divorce process.  However the process itself, which in around 60% of cases means that one party blames the other for the breakdown, fans the flames of conflict.  The study of 2017* reports that 62% of petitioners and 78% of respondents said using fault had made the process more bitter.

‘A total of 21% of respondents in a fault based divorce said that fault had made it harder to sort out arrangements for the children and 31% said it made it harder to come to a solution on finances.  This flies in the face of modern, problem-solving family justice.  The current law is over 50 years old.  It has been criticised for decades in many reports and in Law Commission reviews.  This new legislation is a real opportunity to minimise the consequences of relationship breakdown for all – adults, children, the court system, Treasury and society as a whole.’

The consultation remains open until 2 January 2020 at: https://consult.gov.im/private-members/no-fault-divorce-legislation/

*The Nuffield Foundation report referred to above, published October 2017 can be found here:
https://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/news/divorce-law-england-and-wales-increases-conflict-and-suffering-separating-couples-and-their-chi

Full report: https://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/sites/default/files/files/Finding_Fault_full_report_v_FINAL.pdf

Paper copies of the consultation are available on request and from the Welcome Centre in the Sea Terminal, Douglas.

Do you think residents of the Isle of Man should have the right to vote for the head of our government? Or are you content that in a parliamentary democracy it is accepted that elected Members of the House of Keys nominate and elect the Chief Minister from the lower chamber? This was changed in 2018 to ensure that in future only MHKs vote for the Chief Minister, not also Members of the Legislative Council as in previous years including 2016 when Hon. Howard Quayle MHK was elected Chief Minister.

It is something that I have mulled over following participation in a year long course on Parliamentary Governance at McGill University School of Continuing Studies in Canada. I may pursue this with a debate in Tynwald in the future.

In the meantime I am grateful to Professor Peter Edge of Oxford Brookes University who with academic colleagues, Professor Jennifer Corrin (The University of Queensland Law School) and Professor Claire de Than (Jersey Law Commission), produced a paper explaining the system of electing the head of government in the Pacific state of Kiribati and suggesting the potential for a similar system on the Isle of Man – that would enable a Chief Minister in the future to be elected by public vote.

It is best explained in the Executive Summary:

This report examines the unique arrangements for the appointment and removal of the President of the Pacific state of Kiribati, in the context of political, historical and social factors. It outlines the potential for similar mechanisms to be introduced in the Isle of Man, while remaining aware of the significance of the constitutional, geographical and cultural differences between the two jurisdictions. The report concludes that the dual effect of a vote of no confidence in Kiribati’s model, which triggers not only a new Presidential election but also a fresh general election for the legislature, provides a measure of balance between competing democratic mandates. However it is not the only option, and refinements could be made. Requiring a special majority for a vote of no confidence in the President without triggering a general election may also be considered. Attention should also be paid to identifying the desirable number of presidential candidates, and to how they are to be nominated.

I would welcome your thoughts on the idea. The system is fully explained in the Kiribati Report which you can view here.

Contact details:

Email daphne.caine@gov.im

Facebook @CaineforGarff

Twitter @daffydowndilly

On 1 October 2019 more than 100mm of rain fell on the Laxey Valley. I have spoken with several residents whose property has been flooded; also contacted by many seeking to pass on concerns or information to prevent future flooding. The Chief Minister has announced an independent review will take place. As soon as details of that review are made public I will add them here and send through information I have received.

The announcement about an independent review came during lengthy questioning in Tynwald. You can see the full statement and Tynwald questions here:
https://www.gov.im/about-the-government/departments/the-treasury/laxey-flooding/

Advice for flood victims

The Association of British Insurers has advice on recovering from major floods, including what households and businesses can expect from their insurers and what other actions they should consider taking.

Please see the links below to their online advice for people who have been flooded:

https://www.abi.org.uk/globalassets/files/publications/public/flooding/abi-guide-to-responding-to-major-floods.pdf

https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/flooding/recovering-from-a-flood/

https://www.abi.org.uk/globalassets/files/publications/public/flooding/abi-guide-to-resistant-and-resilient-repair-after-a-flood-2019.pdf

Hard copies of the advice are available in the Tynwald Library, Finch Road, Douglas.

 

The final Garff political surgery of 2019 is scheduled for Monday 4 November at the Archibald Knox meeting room, Avondale Road, Onchan.

All constituents are welcome to attend between 5pm and 6pm.

Any constituency issues can be raised at the surgery with me or Martyn Perkins MHK.

Contact us direct to arrange a private appointment:
Office Tel: 651519 / 651518
Email: daphne.caine@gov.im

My reflections on the past year in Tynwald.

Daphne Caine reflects on her experience so far as MHK for Garff and her priorities for the coming months in this midterm interview from 3FM.

Original source: https://www.three.fm/the-midterms/garff/