The Family Court has recently decided on an unusual divorce case involving a wife who was unaware that she had been divorced for 12 years. She had never been made aware that divorce proceedings had been issued and it transpired that her signature had been forged on or on behalf of her husband.
The divorce which was issued in 2010 has now been set aside.
Rachpal and Kewal Randhawa married in 1978 when they were respectively 19 and 16 years of age.
The couple had “amassed a small fortune” through property transactions during their marriage according to Judge Moradifar. The couple split in 2009 but remained married. The husband then moved in with and married another woman in 2011. He had a child with this woman.
Unbeknown to Mrs Randhawa, her husband had petitioned for divorce at the start of 2010, with the final decree being granted in April. The grounds stated on the divorce petition for the marriage breaking down was that it was due to the wife’s unreasonable behaviour.
In the following years, Mrs Randhawa said she knew of rumours that her husband had a child with another woman but wasn’t aware that he had remarried. She believed that she was still married to Mr Randhawa but accepted that they had separated.
The Court was informed that Mr and Mrs Randhawa still went to family functions as a married couple and that Mr Randhawa claimed that the child from his second marriage was his grandchild. He told people that the child had been born using the reproductive cells of Mr and Mrs Randhawa’s son, who had sadly died when he was 14 years old.
It wasn’t until Mrs Randhawa tried to petition for judicial separation from her Husband in December 2019 that she found out that she had already been divorced for almost a decade.
2021 Family Court proceedings
An eight-day hearing took place last year, in which, Mrs Randhawa claimed divorce proceedings had been initiated without her knowledge, she had never been notified of the proceedings and that the acknowledgement of service document – which she had purportedly signed stating that she didn’t contest the grounds (unreasonable behaviour) – hadn’t been signed by her.
Mr Randhawa denied these claims and alleged that Mrs Randhawa had been fully aware of the proceedings and had engaged in the process. He said that they kept the divorce a secret for cultural reasons.
The Family Court heard several witnesses during the proceedings including a forensic document examiner who examined the documents and signatures. The examiner concluded that there was ‘very strong evidence’ that the signatures were not the Wife’s but that it was not possible to confirm that the Husband had forged them due to Mr Randhawa having failed to provide the Court with a sufficient sample of his handwriting for examination.
What did the Court decide?
Judge Moradifar set aside the decree absolute from 2010, stating that Mr Randhawa was “the only person with opportunity and motive to ensure that the divorce proceeded without difficulties”. There was no evidence in support of his claim that the signature on the acknowledgement of service was ‘faked’ by his Wife. Thereby, the signature on the form was a forgery and was forged by or on behalf of Mr Randhawa.
The Judge also found that Mr Randhawa’s argument for not providing a sufficient sample of his handwriting lacked ‘any credibility’ and that he was ‘highly evasive’.
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