In this article I will address some of the general principles of Bermuda divorce law and also take a look at some misconceptions which are fairly widely held. At the outset, however, I must stress that time and space will not permit a very detailed analysis and I would counsel anyone engaged in, or considering, a divorce to seek the advices of an experienced matrimonial lawyer.
Firstly, let’s look at jurisdiction. Sometimes clients are confused about their right to initiate a divorce in Bermuda. Ours is a cosmopolitan population and many clients will have been married overseas, leading some of them to believe that any divorce must take place in their “home” jurisdiction. Not so. If either party to the marriage is “domiciled’ in Bermuda (in effect, Bermuda is home) or has been resident continuously in Bermuda for one year or more, our courts can entertain a divorce petition.
“Remember to take your SCARF into negotiations” may seem like odd advice. It isn’t. SCARF, an acronym for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness, should not be overlooked and should be taken into account when entering into negotiations.
“Status” refers to the need to be respected and treated as an equal;
“Certainty” to the need for some predictability and security;
“Autonomy” the sense of having choices and some control;
“Relatedness” the need for collegiality and a sense of belonging/trust; and
Death is a subject most of us prefer not to talk about — especially our own. For this reason the same holds true for wills. As an attorney though, it is my duty to advise you that making a will is something you ought to face up to — and in this article I am going to tell you why.
A will is a vital instrument in your trove of estate planning tools as you grapple with planning for your family after your death and estate planning is critical as you undertake new responsibilities, acquire new assets or your family structure changes.
In the absence of having a will, the law, by way of the Succession Act 1974, will decide what happens to your real and personal property (your “Estate”). In the event you do not wish your Estate passing to a particular family member (in default of a will) or you wish to ensure it passes to a person or persons, having a will in place will allow you to spell out exactly how your Estate will devolve.
Many of us have life insurance and never give it a moment’s thought. It was offered to us as part of an employment package, or recommended to us when we got married, bought a house or had a child; another of life’s milestones and an acceptance of the responsibilities of adulthood. We feel secure that for a reasonable sum paid annually, our families will be provided for if the worst should happen. We renew the policy each year, never revisiting its terms or considering whether our circumstances or objectives may have changed.
In truth, however, the designation of life insurance beneficiaries is as important to your family’s future, in the event of your death, as the terms of your will. Few of us would make a will without first considering whom we want to benefit and in what manner, obtaining legal advice and then carefully reading the documents, before signing on the dotted line. The same should hold true for life insurance.