Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I got married to my high school friend in May 2014. I've been living in the UK for a long time now, but I've known him since September 1992 when we started high school together. I left Jamaica a few weeks after getting married, and after almost two years of trying to get him to the UK, I've finally succeeded in my efforts. However, within two weeks of his arrival I realised that something wasn't adding up. He no longer spoke to me and didn't want intercourse. He blamed it on being homesick. I soon found out that the whole thing was well planned. A few women have contacted me on Facebook to say he's used them for money. He just used me to gain access to the UK. I also found out that he was also on dating websites as well as having several relationships going on back in Jamaica.
One day I got home to see that he had packed his stuff and left for London. After I found out that he had left my property for good, I contacted the Home Office to withdraw my sponsorship which meant he was no longer entitled to the five-year visa he received on entry.
He is now back in Jamaica and has filed for divorce, which I don't have a problem with. He has informed me that the court can't send the paperwork directly to me to sign, and someone else has to sign for it. Is there any truth in this? Also, where do I stand in all this, seeing that he was hardly ever working when he was back in Jamaica and I used to send money to him. Can he come at me for any support? Can he go after my pension?
I am sorry to learn of the sad situation which arose in your marriage, even after your efforts and expense in ensuring the grant of a visa for your husband to join you in the UK. As a result of his obvious lack of interest in the marriage and disclosures made by others, you concluded that he had merely used you to get to the UK.
I must say that there is no truth to his statement that the court cannot send the divorce paperwork directly to you to sign and that someone else has to sign it.
Firstly , the court never sends any documents to any respondent in any matter. It is the responsibility of the applicant, in this case the petitioner — your husband and his lawyer — to ensure that you are served, and since he knows where you live, there is no reason for him to even apply for an order for substituted service.
The law requires that his petition and other relevant documents be served on you in person – that is you, and only you, must receive it. After this you must have the Acknowledgement of Service – one of the documents which must accompany his petition when you are served – completed and signed by you and/or your solicitor and keep a copy and have the original copy sent to the court for filing.
You can, of course, retain a lawyer in Jamaica to represent you when you are served to do this on your behalf. This Acknowledgement of Service will state that you are not contesting the divorce or that you are or you do not agree with certain matters in the petition. If he had made any application in addition to that for the dissolution of the marriage, you can ensure that your lawyer contests such applications as is your right in law.
However, it seems that he intends to commit a fraud on the court, because after service personally on the respondent, he must by an affidavit of service prove to the court, through the person who served you, stating the day, time and place at which you were served. If he intends to have “someone else” sign for you, it would be fraudulent, because if the court discovers how you were identified as his wife etcetera, and that someone else signed for you, his divorce application cannot go through.
I suggest that you contact and retain a lawyer in Kingston to do a search at the Supreme Court Registry to find out if he has indeed filed his Petition for Dissolution of the Marriage and whether a completed Acknowledge of Service and/or Affidavit of Service had been filed. If so, your lawyer must then act promptly, by preparing for filing an affidavit for you to inform the court that you have not been served with any petition and what your husband had told you about the court not being able to send you the documents directly. You must say that as he lived with you in the UK, he knows you address and he is acting fraudulently.
About your other questions, whether he can come at you for support or go after your pension – all I can say is that he can file any claim against you, but the filing does not mean that he can succeed. It would also be odd for him to do so, as these documents must also be served on you and the court would look askance on such an application if it does not have your address on it. If it does, you can then, apart from contesting the claims, use his application and affidavit in support which would contain your address to support an application to nullify his divorce on the grounds of fraud.
I would also suggest that you write to the registrar of the Supreme Court to enquire about the matter, and ask that a flag be put on any such petition being proceeded with on the basis of anyone in Jamaica signing as if they are you, as you are in the UK and have not been in Jamaica for a particular period of time. You can also ask, if the petition has been filed, for a copy to be sent to you so that you can act to protect your interests.
I wish for all my readers and the staff of the Observer a very happy Christmas and a contented, safe and healthy new year.
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 email@example.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
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.