‘Debbie Backer’ bill gives divorced persons more time to claim property

The Married Persons (Property) (Amendment) Bill 2013 was on Thursday evening unanimously approved by parliament and will see persons being given a three-year timeframe to claim property after the dissolution of their marriage.

The bill in the name of deceased APNU parliamentarian Debbie Backer saw every parliamentarian who spoke on it dedicating same to Backer. They explained that the bill seeks to give, especially women, the option of a change of heart in filing for property up to three years after their divorce through the summary process.

However, Attorney General Anil Nandlall explained that the bill was subject to interpretation and to him means that the three-year period was a guide. “It should be interpreted to be inclusionary and not exclusionary. In other words it should include applications for the three-year period by allowing those applications to benefit from a summary process but not to exclude applications beyond the three years as a statutory bar… a person can come by a protracted long writ procedure and file for division of property outside the three-year period,” he said.

Deborah Backer
Deborah Backer
Anil Nandlall
Anil Nandlall

AFC MP Moses Nagamootoo opined suggested that the Bill be renamed “The Debbie Backer Bill” as he informed that he welcomed its approval since its ensures persons will speedily see the tangible benefits from the marriage after moving on.

“A person in marriage…after a divorce, having to face this long journey called justice, would very well expire and not enjoy the fruits of their matrimony or properties acquired in the course of marriage…within three years of the divorce being pronounced you can take advantage of the Act and go to court under the procedure in the course of marriage and have the award made quickly,” he said.

“This is a great piece of legislation for Guyana; a great victory for married women, in particular,” he added.

PPP/C Member of Parliament Bibi Shadick said that while the bill appears to be “a very simple and innocent looking piece of legislation,” the possibility exists that it could be very complex.

Moses Nagamootoo
Moses Nagamootoo
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