My friend got married to a man who deceived her by saying he was a teacher. She then realised that he was actually a roving preacher and philanderer who could not take care of her. He rented houses and left owing bills, and left my friend to cover for him. While they were together he kicked her out of the house three times. My friend and this man have been separated for a year now, and he is now involved with another woman.
My question is, since she entered a fraudulent marriage, are those grounds for an annulment, or will she have to seek a dissolution of the marriage? She doesn't want to ever be known as his ex-wife, or have any evidence of the fact that the marriage ever existed.
On the facts as you have stated, your friend having been deceived about her husband's profession is not sufficient grounds for meeting the legal requirements for the marriage to be declared a void or voidable marriage. The deception was not about his identification or about the nature of the ceremony, nor was the ceremony conducted by a person pretending to be a marriage officer. These are the requirements under law.
In her circumstances, she will have to file a petition for divorce. I must admit that I do not understand what you mean by the statement that she does not want to ever be known as his ex-wife or have evidence of the fact that the marriage ever existed. As to the first, that is up to her. If she had adopted his surname, she can change back to her own surname. As to the latter, there will always be evidence of the fact of her marriage in the Registrar General's Department.
Remember, she was not at fault. We can all be deceived by others.
The divorce proceedings will be in the records of the court. However, in her petition for dissolution of the marriage, she can and should state the grounds for the breakdown of the marriage and clearly mention his deception and philandering. She can draw comfort from the fact that his lies, the occupational deception, and his lifestyle, showed him to be a completely different type of man than he had presented to her. However, this difference does not fall within the categories in law to warrant an annulment.
Another point you should note is that even an annulment proceeding would remain in the records of the court.
Please tell your friend to obtain the services of a lawyer to assist her to prepare and file her petition and obtain her divorce so she can get her name back (if she had changed it) and on the granting of her decree absolute, she can go on with her life free of the encumbrance of her deceitful husband. There will be no necessity for her to even go and give evidence in a courtroom. Her divorce can be obtained by way of documents filed on her behalf.
I wish her all the best of luck and a happier life.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.