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Court Determines if Divorce Filed in Ghana is Valid

This is a case being heard before the Supreme Court of the State of New York located in Nassau County. The plaintiff in the case is T.T. and the defendant in the matter is K.A. The plaintiff/wife is seeking a temporary order of relief while the divorce is being settled. The defendant/husband has moved for an order to dismiss the complaint.

Case Background

A New York Family Lawyer said the couple was married on the 20th of April in Ghana in a ceremony that is referred to as a customary marriage in the country. The couple has not stated that the marriage was registered, licensed, or in any way officially validated by a civil authority of Ghana. The couple has two children together who are emancipated.

According to what evidence the court has gathered, a customary marriage can be customary dissolved when the family of the wife returns the customary drinks that sealed the marriage to the head of the husband’s family. A New York Custody Lawyer said this action authorizes the male head of households for both the wife and the husband to petition the court in Ghana for an order to confirm the customary divorce. This then gives the couple the right to remarry. According to a document received by the court and signed by the Deputy Consul – General of the Republic of Ghana, customary divorces if performed in accordance to the Matrimonial Causes Act may be confirmed by an order from a competent registrar.

An order dated the 28th of August, 1997 from the Circuit Court of Ghana shows that an uncle of the husband, J.A. and the father of the wife, K.F. filed a joint petition seeking the dissolution of the customary marriage. The court affirmed that the customary divorce was recognized in the courts of Ghana.

The husband customarily remarried in Ghana on the 23rd of March, 1999. This marriage was dissolved on the 21st of August, 2001. The husband customarily married his third wife on the 28th of December, 2003. This marriage was customarily dissolved on the 17th of November, 2006.

Around the year 2004, the second wife of the husband began a divorce action in Suffolk County, New York. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said this action was dismissed as the court found that the divorce in Ghana was valid.

Plaintiff’s Argument

The plaintiff opposes the motion to dismiss by the husband alleging that she and the parties’ sons moved from Ghana to New York in 1995 to join her husband. A Nassau County Custody Lawyer said she states that she was not aware that the marriage had been dissolved through a court order in Ghana. She further states that both her and her husband were not residents of Ghana at the time the divorce took place. The wife states that she did not receive notification of the divorce. The wife states that the relationship between her and her husband was on and off again and that her husband has excluded her from the Uniondale residence since this summons and complaint was served to him.

Defendant’s Argument

The defendant states that the wife knew about his second and third marriages and divorces. The tax return provided by the defendant shows that he was not married in 1998. The tax returns from 1999 and 2000 show that he was married to his second wife at that time. He further shows that he has not listed the plaintiff as his wife on any documents since 1998.

Court Decision

This is a rather unusual case and the court will set aside the cross motion made by the husband for dismissal until further discovery can be made. The application for relief is denied to the plaintiff.

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