Business

A wife’s entitlement after the marriage goes bad

Tell Claudienne

With Claudienne Edwards

Sunday, August 03, 2014    

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Dear Claudienne,

I am married and I reside in Trelawny.

On July 14, 2012, my husband put an advertisement in the print media stating that he was no longer cohabiting with me and was not responsible for "any debt I hereafter incur". Up to now I have not had an explanation from him as to why he put the advertisement in the newspaper.

We had marital problems after I discovered that he was involved with another woman. I was hoping that the issues could be ironed out, but he chose to move on with his new mate.

On September 1, 2013, he sent me an envelope without a name on it. When I opened the envelope I realised that it was a petition for the dissolution of our marriage.

I took the document to a lawyer to find out what to do. She advised me that I would not necessarily have to go to court for a hearing, but she told me that one of two things could happen.

(1) The process of the divorce could go through without my knowledge and I would be sent a copy of the court documents dissolving the marriage.

(2) If after nine months to a year I did not hear anything, I could call the Supreme Court to find out the status of the divorce process.

My other concern is that he owns two houses. He lives in one of the houses and I occupy the other house. I have lived in this house since August 2005, and our younger son who is 19 years old lives with me.

We do not have a title for the house that I occupy as it has an NHT mortgage. However, my husband's name, my name, and my eldest son's name are listed on the NHT tenancy document.

I want to know what to expect and what are my rights were my husband to try to remove me from the house that I occupy.

JC

Dear JC

An attorney-at-law advised Tell Claudienne that you can make an application under the Property Rights and Spouses Act to the Supreme Court to have the court declare that you are entitled to half of the interest in the property. The attorney said that even if your husband alone had bought the house that you occupy, the Act would still apply, as through your contributions as a wife and mother you would still have contributed.

Section 14 1A of the Property Rights and Spouses Act states: "The court may make an order for the division of the family home property."

Under Section 14 2A- E of the Property Rights and Spouses Act some of the main things the court would examine to determine division of a property include:

(1) Contributions, financial or otherwise.

(2) Duration of the marriage.

(3) That there is agreement with respect to the ownership and the division of the property.

Please consult your lawyer for further advice.

Good luck.

Redundancy payment

Dear Claudienne,

For eight years I worked at a store in a rural town. On April 30, the proprietor of the store informed me and three other workers that we were to be made redundant because business was slow. I was told that my redundancy payment would be $143,000 and that I would receive it in four payments.

In May they tried to give me a letter that contained a cheque for $35,000, but I refused to accept the letter. The letter informed me that I would receive two more payments in 2014 and that the last payment would be made in February 2015. I am very upset as I don't understand why all the money owed to me is not being paid in one lump sum.

I think this is unreasonable. I would accept the money in three instalments, but I cannot understand why the final payment is to be made in 2015.

Could you kindly take up this matter with the proprietor of the store for me.

PD

Dear PD,

We asked the Ministry of Labour what was your entitlement under the Redundancy Act. The ministry said that you were entitled to receive the redundancy payment in one lump sum, but that it would be reasonable for an employer to negotiate with his/her workers to pay them in instalments if it became necessary.

The ministry said that if a worker was not satisfied with the terms of the compensation, he/she could sue the employer and have a judge decide the matter. The ministry said that in order to determine if the employer was being reasonable in paying you the redundancy package in four instalments, the judge could demand to see the company's financial statements.

Tell Claudienne spoke to the proprietor and he has promised to pay you the total amount of $143,000 by December 2014.

Good luck.

Have a problem with a store, utility, a company? Telephone 936-9436 or write to: Tell Claudienne c/o Sunday Finance, Jamaica Observer, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or e-mail: edwardsc@jamaicaobserver.com. Please include a contact phone number.

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