What do I have to do to end my marriage?
At the end of last week's article, I promised to outline what steps would have be taken to end a woman's marriage to a man who failed to disclose to his bride-to-be the fact that he had undergone a vasectomy.
As I had concluded that the husband's omission to share the important information that he would not be able to father a child with his new wife would not render the marriage void, the steps to end the marriage will be the same as those that are usually taken to dissolve a valid marriage. Those steps generally involve waiting for two years of the marriage to elapse, and one year's separation before a petition can be filed at the Supreme Court to assert that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
The new wife may be so upset about the revelation that she wants to end the marriage immediately, but there is just no quick solution because the alternative to waiting for two years of the marriage to elapse before commencing court proceedings could sometimes take as long as a year! That alternative involves applying to the Supreme Court for an order to file the petition within the first two years of the marriage in reliance on Section 8 of the Matrimonial Causes Act. To do so, the applicant must prove that she attempted reconciliation with the assistance of an approved marriage counsellor and there are circumstances that justify the hearing of the petition.
It should be noted that full disclosure is required on an application of that nature because, if the court is led by any concealment or misrepresentation as to the nature of this case, and the court discovers that fact when the petition is being heard, the petitioner may be ordered to wait for the second anniversary of the marriage to pass before proceeding with the divorce petition. In the end, the wife may be well-advised to wait until two years of the marriage have passed before commencing divorce proceedings.
Once the petition to dissolve the marriage is filed at the Supreme Court, the entire process may take at least one year to be concluded. During the course of that petition (or within 12 months after the marriage is dissolved), either party may also file applications for maintenance or division of matrimonial property.
If the marriage could have been dissolved on grounds that it is void, the wife would have been able to present the petition to the court for a decree of nullity of marriage immediately after discovering the facts that render the marriage void. There would be no need to wait for two years of the marriage or one year's separation to pass before filing the petition.