Justice Ministry studies registered partnerships

POSTED: 09/28/11 12:00 PM

Parliament passes paternity legislation

St. Maarten – The Parliament passed without much discussion the national ordinance on paternity, but it got stuck with legislation that regulates inheritance in St. Maarten. Minister Duncan said that his ministry is studying the ins and outs of registered partnerships. To give MPs more time to study the issue, and to discuss it with civil law professor Jan de Boer, the meeting was postponed until next week Monday, October 3.

Justice Minister Roland Duncan briefly explained the paternity legislation, saying that 25 percent of children do not know who their father is. Though the official statistic is from Curacao, the Minister said he is confident that the situation in St. Maarten is similar. The legislation enables children, their mother and the Court of Guardianship to establish paternity, “with all the legal consequences,” Duncan added.

Fathers already have the right to establish their paternity since 2001, even if the mother opposes this. George Pantophlet and his National Alliance faction leader both said that the legislation is a step in the right direction. “Every child has the right to know who his father is,” Marlin said. He stressed the importance of a good public information campaign about the changes.

Democratic Party MP Leroy de Weever expressed concerns about mothers who could put someone in a potentially embarrassing situation.” De Weever also thought, erroneously, that DNA-testing is not available.

Lloyd Richardson (NA) also expressed support, saying that children who are not readily acknowledged by their biological father suffer psychological damages.

Answering a question from MP George Pantophlet, Minister Duncan said that it is possible to establish the identity of a donor who has fathered a child via artificial insemination, but that this fatherhood has no legal consequences.

The inheritance law triggered more questions. Basically the legislation strengthens the position of the longest living partner in a relationship. They get the usufruct of the house until their death and also the usufruct of financial resources. Children get a claim on the surviving partner that can only be executed after his or her death.

Professor de Boer acknowledged that it remains possible to disinherit a partner in a will. “But even if a partner is disinherited, he or she will still keep the right to what is called support-usufruct of the home and resources that guarantee a minimum level of existence.

Minister Duncan said that his Ministry is currently studying the matter of registered partnerships. “From a human rights perspective I feel that it is not up to the government to tell people how they have to live their life. We don’t have the right to regulate that. In the Netherlands there are no restrictions on gender for registered partnerships; we are studying that aspect as well.”

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