All Woman

All he wants is my money

By Margarette Macaulay

Monday, March 24, 2014    

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Dear Mrs Macaulay,

I got married to a Jamaican citizen on 11/12/13. I knew him for one year and eight months. After about eight months in the relationship I found out he had been married before and it was a business marriage. The ex-wife lives in Canada. I bypassed that because he stressed to me that it was not like that with us. In the meantime he was coming up with lies saying he needed money and things for his son. I was trying to be a good girlfriend and would send it with his promise of paying me back.

When it came time to get things ready to be married I sent money for him to take care of it before I got to Jamaica. Sure enough nothing was taken care of and there was no money to pay for it, so I paid for the licence and got the documents together a week before we got married. When we went to sign the marriage documents after the ceremony, the pastor messed up my husband's last name and didn't turn in the licence. We got married on the 12th of November and the document was turned in on the 26th. I left Jamaica on the 28th of November so I couldn't go see if any papers were even filed.

Since then this man has asked for money from me over and over saying we are married, what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours. Now I am under the impression that all he wants from me is money and to get to the United States. I don't believe he loves me and I want it to be over. My question is, what is the best route to take and how do I start it because I live in the United States. I have no marriage licence and have not turned in any paperwork here in the United States.

How unfortunate that despite all that your husband put you through, you still went ahead and married him. Let me first deal with your reference to an annulment. You cannot get your marriage annulled because from what you said and the dates you gave, you and your husband clearly consummated your marriage. This being the case, a dissolution of the marriage is the only way to terminate a consummated marriage unless it is a situation of bigamy; it is void under the Marriage Act; your consent was obtained by duress or fraud; it was a case of mistaken identity; or mental incapacity of one party at the time of the marriage rendered him or her incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the ceremony. It could also be annulled if the parties were of the same sex at the time of the marriage.

The fact that he might have pretended to love you when he did not and was only pursuing his own self-interests does not to my mind fall under the category of fraud as used in the Matrimonial Causes Act. So, it is divorce for you and it is good that you did nothing about him in the US.

I do hope that you are not continuing to send him any money despite his repeated requests. He is a scamp and a leech. His utterances don't reflect what is the true legal principle. The true position is that spouses may end up having an interest in the other's property or properties, or not. You both have, however, not been married long enough for either of you to attain any interest in each other's properties.

Your legal options

You need not be here to proceed with a petition for divorce and to obtain it. You will have to retain the services of an attorney here to act for you to prepare you to be in a position to file your petition and have it served and to see the process through in the Supreme Court once it is filed to the grant of your decree nisi, and later to prepare your application that the decree nisi be made absolute.

Divorce proceedings in Jamaica can and do proceed on only the documents filed in court. You do not have to be here, as you do not need to attend court to give evidence to obtain your freedom through divorce.

However, I said your attorney must prepare you so that you can file your petition because by law, you must have been married for at least two years before you can file a petition for divorce and you must have been living separate and apart for a full 12 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition. As you have not been married for the two years pursuant to the Matrimonial Causes Act, you would have to apply to the Supreme Court (with the assistance of your attorney), for leave to file your petition out of time. Bearing in mind your story, I think that you have a very good chance of proving that there are special circumstances which would justify your petition being heard before the expiration of two years, Also in addition, no amount of counselling would cure him of his lack of honesty or give him any integrity or reawaken your earlier feelings for him. Clearly from your letter, he has killed any interest you had in making the marriage work and from what you reported this is a good thing.

Your attorney would also assist you to search for and obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate, as a first act. You must provide this person with your husband's full real name and the one which you say the marriage officer messed up, and the name of the marriage officer, to assist with the search. Also mention the date you said the documents were handed in by the marriage officer..

Some questions which are engaging my mind are, did the marriage officer not hand you a copy of your marriage certificate at the end of your marriage ceremony? If so, where is it? In any event, a search must be made at the Registrar General's Dept

for it.

I hope my answers have clarified the position for you. If not, you can write and request any further clarification which you may need. Good luck.

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.

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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