Can my husband divorce me without my knowledge?

All Woman

Dear Mrs Macaulay,

I have written to the Supreme Court asking them if it's possible for my husband to divorce me without my knowledge. Is this paper real? How can it be? I have never received any notices or papers of any kind.

He is now living in Canada, and I need to know my true marital status. I have also checked the judgements and have not found any record of a divorce with our names. Please help.

You have asked me to help you with your problem. I shall help with what I understand from your letter that did not contain information which would have been helpful in terms of bringing clarity to what you have written. It lacks so much relevant facts.

Anyway, I conclude from what you have written that you received a document purporting to be a decree absolute. You, however, have not stated or intimated when and how this happened and what you did then, if anything.

You did say that you never received any notices or papers of any kind, and that you checked the judgements. By this I suppose you mean the decrees of divorce granted, and you said you found no record of any divorce in your names.

Surely then you have the answer to your question of whether this paper is real.

You say you have written to the Supreme Court, but to whom did you address your letter? When did you do so? Have you received any reply? I am going to go out on a limb and say that you have clearly not received a reply, or at least not one which answered the gravamen of your question of how it is possible for your husband to divorce you without your knowledge.

So how can I help you? The first thing I must ask is when you say you checked the judgements, how did you do this? Do you actually mean the judgements of the Supreme Court, which appear on the court's website, or did you have an actual search done in the Family Division in the Supreme Court Registry? Were the actual divorce records searched in the Civil Registry of the Supreme Court?

If there is, in fact, no record of any divorce proceedings having been filed in your names, then you ought to write directly to the chief justice stating your complaints and the questions which you have. Attach to your letter a copy of the document you received, which informed you that your husband had divorced you, and ask the chief justice to have the matter investigated.

It is possible that the document you received purporting to be a decree of the dissolution of your marriage is a forgery. In this case it certainly, in law and in fact, cannot change your status as it is of no effect whatsoever.

If it is in fact a forgery, those responsible for it would have been parties to the commission of the offence of at least uttering a forged document. As it also relates to legal proceedings, it could also involve the charge of committing public mischief and also perversion of justice.

I have suggested that you write to His Honour, the chief justice, as he is the head of the judiciary. Additionally, knowing him, I am certain that he shall be passionately determined to discover the individuals responsible for any forgery or action predicated to pervert the legal course of proceedings in any of the courts of Jamaica, and have them answer for their actions.

The fact that your husband now lives in Canada, another Commonwealth country, makes matters much easier, as he is therefore reachable for legal processes.

You are entitled to know your true marital status, so that you can safely organise your future life with certainty and confidence. So please ensure that a true and proper search is done in the Civil Registry of the Supreme Court to be absolutely certain that your husband did not, in fact, ever file a divorce petition to end your marriage but used a shorter and illegal course.

After you receive the true results following a proper search, if indeed there is no record of a petition having been filed and determined with the granting of a decree nisi and then ultimately a decree absolute, please write the letter as I have suggested. I am sure you will receive a reply and the matter will be resolved.

If, on the other hand, the result is that your husband did indeed file his divorce petition and it was dealt with on paper, based on the fact that an affidavit of service of the petition on you was filed containing misstatements of facts, you must consult a lawyer and decide if you wish to have the decree nisi and all subsequent processes set aside on the basis that they are null and void.

I hope that you do have this matter resolved and find out your true marital status.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail toallwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

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