A Family Court judge has ruled that a Hasidic man obtained his divorce by fraud.
The 39 year-old was introduced to his Israeli wife in 2002. Both were members of the ultra-orthodox Satmar branch of Hasidic Judaism. They married in a civil ceremony in London later that year, although they did not live together or consummate the marriage until their religious service in January 2003.
A few months after their wedding, the wife requested a divorce. She asked during a visit to Israel, claiming she was “deeply unhappy in the marriage from the start” and wished to remain in her home country with her family.
The husband returned to the UK alone shortly after his wife gave birth to a son. There, he filed for a civil divorce on the couple’s fifth anniversary in 2007. He claimed they had been effectively separated for five years and had lived together for a total of less than six months in that time.
He later amended his petition to claim that he did not know where his wife was. The man insisted that she was somewhere in South America but he could not find out where or how to get in touch with her. He also claimed that there were no children in the family. This was enough to convince the court, which granted the husband decree nisi in March 2008 decree absolute in May. The following year, he married another woman in another religious ceremony.
When his first wife heard about the civil divorce, she was “shocked” by the “number of untrue statements in the petition”. She was adamant that the husband knew she was living in Israel, not South America, and she said he had denied having a son in order to secure a divorce.
In response, she applied for the decree absolute to be set aside so she could “control the issue of a divorce petition” herself, and also obtain a Jewish divorce, or ‘get’. Sitting at the Barnet Civil and Family Courts Centre, Her Honour Judge Karp concluded that the wife had provided clear and consistent evidence, which made her “a credible and reliable witness”. By contrast, she found the father’s evidence “rambling and confused” and ultimately “unconvincing”.
The judge set aside the decree nisi and decree absolute, declaring them “null and void”. She ruled that the husband had “perverted the course of justice and succeeded in obtaining a decree absolute by fraud”.
To read the full judgment, click here.
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