Court orders are sometimes obtained by improper means, but when the truth emerges – as it almost always does – those responsible are bound to pay a crushing price. That was certainly so in the case of a businessman who obtained a divorce on the strength of his wife’s forged signature.

The former couple built up considerable wealth during a marriage that lasted more than 30 years and yielded four children. Following their separation, the husband obtained a final decree of divorce on grounds that the marriage had irretrievably broken down due to the wife’s unreasonable behaviour.

The order was granted on the basis of a form which stated that the wife had received notice of the husband’s divorce petition and did not wish to resist it. The form bore the wife’s purported signature. In the years since the divorce, the husband had remarried and had a child with his new wife.

In setting aside the divorce decree at the wife’s behest, a judge noted that a forensic document examiner had testified that there was very strong evidence that the signature on the form was not that of the wife and that it had been simulated by someone else. In the examiner’s opinion, the question of whether the husband had forged the signature could not be conclusively answered.

In the light of that expert testimony and other evidence concerning the background of the marriage, the judge found that the wife had received no notice of the divorce proceedings. It was clear that the husband had a vested interest in the divorce going through and the judge was satisfied that what appeared to be the wife’s signature on the form had been forged by him or by someone else acting on his behalf.


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