Undergoing a divorce can be an extremely difficult time for all concerned, including both partners, any children they have and their wider families.
It is for that reason that legislation has been passed with broad support from politicians and the legal sector alike for ‘no-fault’ divorces, enabling couples to agree to end their marriage without the acrimony that can often arise amid the need to cite grounds such as unreasonable behaviour, neglect or adultery. The new law will come into effect on April 6th.
However, it is important to note that the need for divorce solicitors in Surrey will not suddenly disappear; there may actually be an increased need for vigilance to ensure the liberalised law is not abused.
Indeed, a recent fraud case has shown how important it is in any divorce to ensure that every legal step is taken correctly and with the necessary oversight to ensure legal compliance and also prevent subversion of the legal process for nefarious ends.
The case involved Rachpal and Kewal Randhawa, who were both teenagers when they married in 1978. They stayed together until 2009 when they separated and Mr Randhawa set up home with another woman.
Mrs Randhawa spent the next 12 years believing her status to be separated and they even still attended some events as a married couple. However, he had, unbeknown to her, remarried.
This would, of course, be illegal without a divorce first taking place and it has now transpired that a fraudulent divorce was secured in 2010 on the grounds of Mrs Randhawa’s “unreasonable behaviour”, with Mr Randhawa forging his wife’s signature on the documents.
Having learned of her husband’s apparent remarriage, Mrs Ranhawa took the matter to court last year. The verdict has now been delivered, with Judge Moradifar ruling that her signature had indeed been falsified. Court documents stated that Mr Ranhawa was “the only person with opportunity and motive to ensure that the divorce proceeded without difficulties”.
The ruling set aside the divorce, which may of course raise the possibility of further legal action against Mr Randhawa, having acted fraudulently and also because this would mean his remarriage was unlawful.
As the Independent noted, some family lawyers have expressed concerns that this sort of case could occur more frequently once new ‘no-fault’ rules are in place, as the majority of filings will be made online and couples will not have to prove they have lived apart for two years.
The implication of this is that many parties could be left in the same situation as Mrs Randhawa, with the potential for further consequences such as the absence of a divorce settlement with legally-binding agreements over the ownership of money and property or custody of children.
Another consequence could come in the event of one or other party dying intestate, as spousal provisions for inheritance in such cases would not apply if the divorce is deemed valid.
All this means that for anyone who may be going through a divorce in the near future, it is vital to ensure you have every bit of legal help and guidance you need to ensure the new rules are not abused to bring about an unjust or unlawful situation.