I have real concern that the online divorce process, coupled with the no fault procedure from 6th the April, will open the door to more cases like this. The repercussions of property interests and child disputes could be horrendous. Divorce lawyers need to report back to the courts any gaps or problems in the new procedure when it is available to review to minimise this risk.
Ollie Sirrell, a Court and Crime Reporter wrote in the Slough Observer…
A WOMAN married in Slough was divorced for nine years without knowing about it after her husband forged her signature on separation documents.
Rachpal and Kewal Randhawa were married at Slough registry office in August 1978 but their time together came to an official end in April 2010.
The pair were local property moguls throughout the 1980s and 1990s, purchasing shops and houses in Slough and High Wycombe and the Chalvey Shopping Centre.
But in January 2010, Mr Randhawa filed for divorce as their marriage had broken down due to his wife’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’.
He then met another woman with whom he had a child in September 2010.
Mr Randhawa left his family home with Ms Randhawa in March 2011 — the last time they spoke — before marrying the mother of his new child in September 2011.
Despite their parting, the Randhawas attended some family events in 2015 and 2016.
This all took place without Mrs Randhawa knowing she was officially divorced from her husband until December 2019 when she petitioned for judicial separation.
Mrs Randhawa was informed of the original divorce proceedings and claimed she had not signed the original divorce petition.
The split was able to go ahead because her husband or someone on his behalf forged her signature, she alleged.
In a Family Court hearing on January 2022, His Honour Judge Moradifar was tasked with investigating the issue and was asked to set aside the original divorce petition.
During the probe, a forensic document examiner named Ellen Radley was called to give evidence.
Ms Radley said there was ‘very strong evidence’ to support the claim the signature was not written by Mrs Randhawa.
In his evidence, Mr Randhawa claimed the divorce was kept a secret “for cultural reasons and out of concern or to save embarrassment for their children.”
However, Mrs Randhawa denied this and was under the impression the pair were ‘very much married, although separated.’
When asked if he accepted that the signature was not Mrs Randhawa’s, Mr Randhawa said that “it looks like her signature”.
In his analysis, Judge Moradifar said: “Having considered Mr Randhawa’s evidence, I have no doubt that he is man who would take any necessary steps to achieve his ends and where such steps fall foul of the law or morality, he seeks to deny his conduct unless faced with no other option but to admit the same.
“It is clear to me that in 2010, Mr Randhawa had a vested interest to be divorced from Mrs Randhawa.
“He was the only one of the parties who had an involvement in the divorce process in circumstances that I find Mrs Randhawa did not have notice of the divorce proceedings.
“Thus leaving Mr Randhawa as the only person with opportunity and motive to ensure that the divorce proceeded without difficulties.
“After considering all of the evidence before me, I find that Mrs Randhawa’s purported signature on the Acknowledgement of Service form dated 11 February 2010 was forged by or on behalf of Mr Randhawa.”
The Judge made a number of findings, including:
- Mrs Randhawa had no notice of the divorce proceedings initiated first in January 2010.
- Mrs Randhawa’s signature on the divorce document was forged
- The signature was forged by or on behalf of Mr Randhawa.
- The divorce granted in January 2010 and finalied in April 2010 was formally set aside following the hearing.
Tony Roe of Reading law firm, Dexter Montague, said: “This case demonstrates the solemnity of divorce proceedings and the fact that the Family Court will act if there is a suggestion of divorce fraud.
“This sort of case is rare, but they do happen.
“We should bear in mind that no fault divorce will be introduced on 6 April, after which we are likely to see a spike in the number of divorces.”
We are very experienced in dealing with all things divorce. Contact us here at Penny Raby & Co if this applies to you.