Rude shock for Qld woman who married refugee
A Queensland woman has had her marriage declared void because her refugee husband was still married to his first wife, who lives overseas, when they wed two and a half years ago.
While the husband repeatedly told his wife he was divorced, after she became pregnant he demanded that she accept his first wife as a second wife in their relationship, the Family Court heard.
After she refused, she discovered that her husband had transferred $80,000 overseas to the first wife.
The husband, 39, who was born overseas, came to Australia by boat as a refugee and was intercepted and detained until he obtained a visa allowing him to work in Australia.
He then met his Australian wife, now 42, telling her he was divorced from his first wife, with whom he had an adopted child, now 10.
The court in Cairns was told the husband showed the woman what purported to be a divorce certificate, showing his divorce from his first wife in another country in late 2017.
The pair were married by a celebrant in mid-2018 and in August that year the husband obtained a safe haven enterprise visa, allowing him to travel to and from Australia.
The wife told the court from that point his attitude towards her changed.
On the same day he got his visa, his first wife obtained a passport in her country, which said she was still married to the husband, the court heard.
After the husband returned from a five-week overseas trip, the Australian wife found a photo on his phone, showing the first wife's passport and naming him as her husband.
The husband still tried to persuade his wife that he was no longer married to his first wife, but he also made sure she could no longer get access to his phone, the court heard.
The couple separated in July, 2019, soon after the wife had a miscarriage.
She then made inquiries with the High Commission of her husband's country of origin, with a consular official questioning the divorce certificate's authenticity.
After the wife sought a decree of nullity of the marriage, on the grounds that her husband was still legally married to his first wife, the husband provided no documentary evidence to prove he was divorced.
In coming to the conclusion that the husband was not divorced, Justice Peter Tree relied on the first wife's passport stating she was still married to the man.
He said the husband gave three inconsistent explanations for why he was named as the first wife's husband on her passport and he did not challenge his wife's version of events.
Justice Tree also said it was unlikely the husband would wish to have the first wife join in the couple's relationship if he had only recently divorced his first wife.
On December 18, Justice Tree declared that the marriage was null and void on the ground that the husband was lawfully married to another person at the time the couple wed in Australia.
Originally published as Rude shock for Qld woman who married refugee