It has recently been reported that a large scale divorce fraud has been discovered by a member of staff at Burnley County Court.
Upon considering divorce petitions within the Court process, the staff member noticed that there were two divorce petitions with the same address. Both divorce petitions involved people from Italy and after further investigating the address, it was confirmed to me a non-residential address.
This consequently led to further investigation, to which it was discovered that between August 2010 and February 2014 there had been 180 divorce petitions issued in 137 County Courts using the same address.
This highlighted the need for there to be a central register of divorce petitions that had been issued. The system currently allows you to apply to your local Family Court for a divorce. This Court then process the documentation, allowing you to proceed through the divorce process. The Court, however, does not register your details with any central system, and therefore the details used in one divorce petition could technically be used in several other petitions.
The divorce petitions that were discovered confirmed that the people included in the petition resided in England & Wales, and provided an address for Solicitors in Reading. The Solicitors have no knowledge of these actions. It is claimed that a Dr Russo orchestrated this fraud and has charged fees of upwards of 3,750 euros for this service.
As a consequence of this fraud, the Sir Justice Munby has dismissed all the petitions for divorce where the decree nisi had not been pronounced, and set aside all decree absolutes and decree nisis pronounced on the basis of fraud. Sir Justice Munby has suggested that in order to prevent such fraud occurring again that the processing of divorce petitions should be consolidated to fewer centres.
If you are planning to get divorced or would like expert legal advice about getting divorced in England or Wales, Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free initial consultation with Divorce Lawyer and fixed price divorce services are also available.
Written by Racheal Furniss, a Family Law & Divorce Paralegal at Slater and Gordon in Milton Keynes.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a leading Family Law firm with 1,450 staff and offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Merseyside, Bristol, Newcastle, Halifax, Wakefield, Derby, Cambridge & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire.