Legislation that would enable no fault divorces on the Isle of Man is scheduled to go before the House of Keys for its second reading on Friday (15 May 2020).

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation (Isle of Man) Bill is a private member’s bill brought forward by Garff MHK Daphne Caine.

She commented: “This is a short bill with a far reaching potential impact. If approved it will remove the need for divorcing couples to cite adultery or unreasonable behaviour in order to obtain a divorce in less than two years. The aim is to reduce the adversarial nature of divorce, which it’s believed will lessen the negative impact on the couple and any children involved. It would take out blame and increase the honesty of the divorce process.”

At present if both parties agree, divorce is permitted after a separation of two years but it is a five year wait if one party does not agree to divorce. Under the bill, a couple would be able to apply singly or jointly and obtain a final divorce or dissolution in six months, simply by confirming their marriage or civil partnership had irretrievably broken down.

The legislation is similar to a bill now being progressed through the House of Lords, promoted by the UK Government. In countries where no fault divorce is permitted, rates of fault based divorce reduce from 60% to 6%.

The Isle of Man bill follows a recommendation from a working party of family law advocates who researched the matter on the island.

And in a recent public consultation 94% of respondents supported reforming the law on these lines on the Isle of Man.

Of the 192 individuals who responded to the consultation –

• 94% supported the no fault divorce principle

• 96% agreed couples should be able to apply jointly or singly

• 62% supported a 26 week process as proposed

• 25% supported no minimum period

The full consultation results can be seen here.

2020 Political Surgeries

Saturday 11th January at 10:30 – 12:00 – Laxey – Garff Commissioners Office, Main Road.

Saturday 7th March at 10:30 – 12:00 – Maughold – Glen Mona Hotel, Ramsey Coast Road.

Wednesday 6th May 17:00 – 18:00 – Onchan – Archibald Knox pub meeting room, Avondale Rd.

Saturday 25th July at 10:30 – 12:00 – Laxey – Garff Commissioners Office, Main Road.

Saturday October 3 12:00 – 13:00 – Onchan – Archibald Knox pub meeting room, Avondale Rd.

Saturday November 7 Laxey 10:30 – 12:00 – Laxey – Garff Commissioners Office, Main Road.

All constituents are welcome to attend

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

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/

I care passionately about children on the Isle of Man. However, I am no longer the Chief Minister’s Children’s Champion. I felt compelled to resign following a revision of the terms of reference circulated to me for comment at the end of March 2018. This narrowed the focus of the role to looked after and vulnerable children only.

While I appreciate young people in care need a particular focus and support, I have been inspired by the young people I have met, many of whom have contributed to the Corporate Parenting Group that I have had the honour of chairing. However, the majority of people who contacted me in my 18 months as Children’s Champion would fall outside the new job remit. I therefore, reluctantly, have stood down from the position in order to pursue the many issues that have been brought to my attention.

A copy of the detailed email explaining my reasons for stepping down can be found here along with the Chief Minister’s reply.

Certain issues raised with me that fall outside the revised job role, which I intend to pursue, include:

  • Mental health provision for children and young people
  • Healthcare provision generally for children
  • Supporting policies to reduce childhood obesity and to improve oral health
  • Introducing legislation to enable no fault divorce
  • Pressing DHA to introduce legislation to enable pre-recorded testimony by vulnerable witnesses
  • Provision of a contact centre for private law matters before the Family Court
  • Holiday hunger – seeking action over increased use of the Foodbank by families during summer holidays
  • Provision of special education needs
  • Roll-out of allergy policy in schools
  • Adequacy of play and leisure facilities for children and young people around the Isle of Man
  • Promoting discussion over future Education department policies in respect of religious education; school resources; home schooling; catchment areas; benchmarking attainment and quality assessments.

I am grateful to the Chief Minister for his kind comments in his reply to my resignation. However, it is apparent that we disagree fundamentally in the approach we feel is appropriate to best champion the needs and rights of children and young people on the Isle of Man at this time.

Checklist for 2021

  • Local authority reform
  • Rates reform
  • Means testing for local authority housing
  • Flood management strategy
  • Review of preschool funding
  • Review of student funding
  • Introduction of an enforceable Manx provenance label
  • Development of an agri-renewable strategy
  • Encouragement of energy saving technology for new builds
  • Development of multi-agency working for health and police
  • Development of a road safety strategy
  • Adoption of TUPE regulations to protect employment rights

 

One individual cannot hope to address all the issues facing the Isle of Man and I trust that the influx of new Members will bring fresh ideas, consensus and positivity to secure the Island’s future.

If elected I pledge to work for a positive future for all the residents of Garff and the Isle of Man adhering to the principles of fairness, openness and security outlined above for the benefit of the whole community. 

I welcome your comments and input. Please contact me if there is anything you wish to clarify or points you want to raise.