Wife Didn’t Know Husband Had Divorced Her – Can She Overturn it?
In Rai v. Grewal, the couple had started living together in 2003, and got married 8 years later, only to split up a few years after that. The husband applied for a Simple Divorce, which is a straightforward procedure designed for cases where the parties have no complex divorce-related issues between them, with evidence being put in by Affidavit. The husband was granted a divorce “over the counter” at the courthouse in early 2018. He married another woman two months later.
The problem was, the wife apparently did not realize the divorce had been granted. It was only when she and the husband were negotiating their remaining matrimonial issues – a month after the Divorce Order and a month before his wedding to the new woman – that the wife realized that the husband had formally divorced her.
The wife then waited another three months after this revelation. She then brought a motion to set aside the Divorce Order, and refused to agree to any compromise that would simply separate out the matrimonial issue from the divorce itself.
In support of her motion, the wife claimed the husband had lied on his Affidavit. But even giving the wife the benefit of the doubt on that point, the court pointed out that this was her only real objection, and the sole basis for setting the Divorce Order aside. It noted that the wife’s motive seemed to be to “exact leverage” against the husband.
The larger problem, the court said, was that if the divorce was overturned at this stage, the husband would be significantly prejudiced, since he had moved on to a new relationship. The court said:
In this case, there is real prejudice to the Husband. He is remarried. His new wife will be prejudiced. He will be “disadvantaged” if the order sought is granted as will his new spouse.
In this case, the Wife refuses to accept an order which would remove all prejudice she claims – the corollary relief, including child and spousal support.
The refusal to consider and accept [an] order [dividing the issues] suggests that the Wife’s motivation is to exact leverage on the Husband regarding the corollary relief rather than avoiding any prejudice to her.
The court also called the woman out on her three-month delay, rejecting her claims that it took time to investigate the matter before brining the motion. It found the evidence was to the contrary: Neither the wife nor her lawyer had made any enquiries of the husband about the Divorce Order – not even to obtain a copy of it. Nor had they obtained a copy from the Trial Coordinator’s Office, which would have taken a day or two at most.
After weighing the spouses’ respective positions, the court declined to set aside the Divorce Order, and ordered the remaining marital property issues to go forward for resolution by separate court processes.
For the full text of the decision, see: