Divorce and Perverting the Course of Justice
While commonly individuals are charged with perverting the course of justice in criminal proceedings, it is also possible to be guilty of the offence in relation to divorce court proceedings. There have been several cases recently where a divorcing spouse has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice after having forged the signature of their ex on divorce papers. The courts take this kind of behaviour very seriously and people who either admit or are found guilty of perverting the course of justice can expect a prison sentence.
There are three ways in which an individual can pervert the course of justice:
- Fabricating evidence or destroying evidence
- Threatening or intimidating a witness or juror
- Threatening or intimidating a judge
One such example of this is the case of a man who forged his disabled wife’s signature on documents relating to their divorce. He did not tell his wife that he was going to divorce her, but carried on living with her in order to share her £1m payout in compensation resulting from her claim for hospital negligence. At the same time, the man remarried in secret abroad.
His actions only came to light when his wife began divorce proceedings of her own volition and discovered that she was already divorced. The man proclaimed his innocence but was found guilty after a trial. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment.
It is clear that this man decided to take his dishonest approach because he wanted a share of his wife’s compensation payout. He must have considered that he would not have been entitled to any of this money if he divorced his wife. This may not have been the case. Compensation is a marital asset, even though the wife would arguably be entitled to more of it. The compensation money would have been offset against other assets.
If the husband in this case had acted honestly, he would probably have been entitled to a higher share of the other marital assets if his wife were to retain her compensation. This would particularly have been the case if he had helped her throughout her health difficulties.
Why You Should Think Twice Before Forging Documents in Divorce Proceedings
Most experienced divorce lawyers have seen a number of forged signatures on divorce documentation. If it can be proved that a divorce petitioner has lied, the court will ‘set aside’ the divorce and will pursue the individual vigorously. Very often, these individuals are successful, self-made businessmen or women who do not think that anyone will be able to unravel their web of deceit.
The problem is that they are so self-assured that they do not consider the consequences of their actions. If this means a lengthy period on bail awaiting trial, the public humiliation of a criminal case, a criminal conviction and eventual prison sentence this can destroy the individual’s own life and reputation.
Rather than try to take the law into your own hands, see a divorce lawyer. You don’t need to tell anyone that you have taken advice about your legal situation, and will be advised as to the best way forwards in light of your particular circumstances.
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