Hubby won't send me divorce papers

All Woman

DEAR MRS MACAULAY,

I would like to know how I would find out if I am divorced and how to get a copy of the divorce papers. My ex-husband applied for the divorce in Jamaica, since that is where we got married and where he lives. He won't send me a copy of the paperwork.

The contents of your letter are very strange. It seems that you truly believe that your husband did in fact file a petition here in Jamaica for the dissolution of your marriage. It seems that you have asked him to send you a copy of the application, but he refuses to do so. Consequently, you wish to know how you can find out whether the process has been completed, and if so, how you can obtain a copy of the documents.

I have said that the contents of your letter are very strange because the Matrimonial Causes Act and its Rules require the petition and attendant relevant documents to be served on all respondent spouses, and such service must be proved to the court by way of an Affidavit of Service. This is a sworn document which must relate the specific facts of when (date and time); where (place, the full address); and how the respondent was identified (whether by photograph, or was known to the server before the date as the wife or husband of the petitioner). It should also relate how the service occurred (was it handed to the respondent or dropped at their feet, or whatever), and whether the person admitted that they were the husband or wife of the petitioner.

You see, service must meet with the prescribed rules of how the respondent must be served, and must be sufficiently described for the judge to decide whether or not the manner of service satisfies the legal requirement. If it does not, the process for divorce would be rejected for the failure to prove that it had been properly served on the respondent.

There have been instances when such affidavits have been found to contain untrue statements about service having been properly effected, and it has been then determined that the deponent acted fraudulently by perjuring themselves. If the lawyer for the petitioner is proved to have known or arranged the falsity, they can be found guilty of professional misconduct upon a complaint being made against them to the General Legal Council.

This is the reason for my bemusement about your letter. Proper service of the documents on you is a very serious requirement, and vital to the successful conclusion of the dissolution of a marriage.

Having explained all that, let me try to assist you to find out whether you are purportedly divorced or not, and to obtain a copy of the documents (if any) filed on behalf of your husband.

You can contact the Registrar of the Supreme Court at the Civil Registry of the court. Its address is King Street, Kingston, Jamaica. The telephone numbers are 876-922-8300-9 and the fax number is 876-967-0669. Or you can try to make you enquiry by email addressed to registrar@supremecourt.gov.jm, or better yet, ask someone who lives here to do your enquiries for you, who can go in person to do a search of the records, pay a small fee, and obtain the copies for you.

I assume that you have no documents at all and therefore do not have the claim number which you can give them and thereby aid in the search. If I am right, then the search will have to be done for his and your name and for around the time he told you he had filed his petition. If this is so, this would be better done by someone in person, who can then obtain the copies for you, upon the search being successful. If nothing is found, then your husband must have misled you.

In my view, it would be best for you to retain a lawyer to do the search on your behalf and obtain the copies for you. This will cost you a bit more, but it would be worth the expense in my view.

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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