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Judge says divorce should be annulled – but lets parties negotiate
A former sheriff has been found entitled to reduction of a decree of divorce obtained by his then wife under trhe simplified procedure – but the judge has postponed making an order where the wife had remarried and the husband simply wanted to pursue a financial claim.
Lord Woolman in the Court of Session found that Raj Jandoo had grounds to have the decree obtained by his wife, Nerinder Kaur, set aside where the action was served while he was away in India for three months, under a procedure which did not permit a financial claim although both he and his solicitors had previously advised that he intended to make such a claim.
The parties had met in 2010 through an online dating agency. Each already had children. They lived together in a flat owned by Mr Jandoo and his former partner, whose share he then bought out. He also bought the next door flat to create space for family life, subsequently transferring the title to both properties to Ms Kaur. He denied intending to make a gift of the properties. However they had separated by early 2013.
In May 2015 Ms Kaur attempted to obtain divorce under the simplified procedure, an action that was dismissed when Mr Jandoo said he wanted to make a financial claim. She raised a further action in January 2016, in which decree was pronounced in absence in February. Mr Jandoo was in India between December 2015 and March 2016, with limited access to the internet. During that time his solicitors reaffirmed his intention to seek financial provision, but the action was raised soon afterwards. The judge found that a neighbour whom Mr Jandoo had asked to keep an eye on matters was unable to access the flat after Ms Kaur changed the locks; he also saw Mr Jandoo's effects being removed from the flat. It was likely that the divorce papers were removed before anyone could see them on Mr Jandoo's behalf.
Lord Woolman did not regard Ms Kaur's remarriage as decisive in her favour, where this took place a month after the present action was raised. He was satisfied that although a court decree was not lightly to be set aside, the relevant tests had been met.
However the remarriage, and Ms Kaur's sequestration in late 2015, were "complicating factors". Her trustee was also pressing a claim to the flat. The judge concluded: "I shall fix a by order hearing in three months’ time. It is in the interests of the parties to cooperate and reach agreement. That may mean that no further hearing is required and I will not need to pronounce decree for reduction. If, however, no agreement is reached shortly, then the parties can either (i) amend the pleadings in this action to conclude for divorce and financial provision, or (ii) raise fresh proceedings in the sheriff court."
Click here to view the opinion.