I was astounded to read recently that a total of 180 divorce petitions recently had to be set aside by our family Court after it was established that they were issued fraudulently and originated in Italy using one United Kingdom mailbox address. This address had been tendered as proof that the petitioner in each case had lived for at least a year in England and Wales and that our Courts had jurisdiction on this basis. In more than 90 of these applications a decree absolute (a final order of divorce) had been granted but the family Court dismissed all these applications as being fraudulent. This could have serious repercussions for parties involved who may have remarried or had a child in another relationship in the meantime, believing they were divorced from their first spouse.
Apparently this “fraud” has been going on for the last 2 years and it only came to light when a member of Court staff at a County Court in Lancashire spotted that two files had listed the same address on the petitions.
In order to combat this in the future there are suggestions that the application for the first stage of divorce (decree nisi) should require the applicant/petitioner to complete a statement of truth to which would be attached warnings about penalties for making a false statement. Many of these cases also involved the parties falsely using the name of a law firm without the knowledge of anyone at the firm.