Did my wife commit bigamy?

All Woman

 

Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I was married to a woman in 2014. I filed for her to become a permanent resident. She returned to Jamaica and had a child and got remarried, even though we are not divorced. She said she filed for the divorce but there is no record of it at the Supreme Court. The Registrar General's Department (RGD) has issued her a new marriage certificate which says that she is divorced. I tried to get information at the Supreme Court and they can't help. What should I do?

 

Your letter is very sparse on facts, but I shall however do my best to answer your question on what you should do in the circumstances.

If you were never informed by your wife that she was going to divorce you and you were never served with her petition for the dissolution of your marriage and there is no record of it at the Supreme Court, it is more than reasonable for you to conclude that you are still married.

The fact that the RGD issued a new marriage certificate which states that she married as a divorcée, was based on what she disclosed as her status in the application for a licence or in answer to the marriage officer who was to conduct the marriage ceremony. Out of caution, she ought to have been asked to produce her decree absolute. Such a misstatement of fact would explain why the new marriage certificate was issued stating that she was a divorced woman.

You say that the Supreme Court Registry had no record of the divorce she claimed to have filed and supposedly obtained. Are you certain that a full search was conducted in the Supreme Court Registry covering all the time she spent in Jamaica after she left you in the USA, and up to or near the time she remarried?

Because if the search was done for only one of the years, then her divorce proceedings could be there for another period of time.

If she did not in fact petition the Supreme Court for her marriage to be dissolved, and obtained her decree nisi and later her decree absolute, and then married another man knowing that you were still alive, then she committed the offence of bigamy.

So what should you do? First, you should make sure that another full search is done in the Supreme Court Registry covering the period she was in Jamaica after she returned, and up to shortly before her marriage. Apply to the registry for a certificate of your search evidencing the result.

Then, if the result you get is the same as before, you can make a complaint to the police, or go to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and make the complaint there that your wife has committed bigamy. The police may not be helpful, as I am sure they have not charged anyone for bigamy for a long while. You should take with you a certified copy of your marriage certificate and also a certified copy of her new marriage certificate and the certificate of the search result.

Then let the law take its course.

I wish you the very best.

 

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 to allwoman@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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