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FAMILY LAW: MILITARY WIFE FIGHTING FAKE DIVORCE DECREE

Divorce can be a long process for many in Washington. Few, however, see their family law cases span years before a final decree is issued. For one Tacoma woman, it has taken more than four years to complete a divorce, reportedly due in large parts to the actions of her ex-husband.

The couple separated in 2008. At that time, the husband told the woman that he wanted to file for divorce in Lincoln County where, he said, the divorce could be processed quickly. When negotiations between the spouses stalled, the case was left to linger and was likely eventually dismissed due to lack of progress, if it was ever filed in the first place.

It was during this time that the wife learned her ex-husband had told his employer, the Army, that he was divorced. In fact, authorities assert that he presented a falsified divorce decree to his commanding officers. This, perhaps understandably, is hardly a common occurrence in family law cases in Washington.

After finding out about the falsified decree, the woman filed a petition for dissolution in the Pierce County court. The divorce is now pending before that court, and she and her representatives are working to complete a legitimate dissolution. They have been hampered in their efforts by the ex-husband's apparent unwillingness to cooperate with the court, his representatives or his ex-wife.

When a divorce petition is filed in a Washington court, there are specific procedures required prior to obtaining a final decree. These procedures can mean negotiations with the other spouse and court approval of agreements. When a person going through a family law process such as divorce suspects that their former spouse may be falsifying documents, it may do well to review all filed materials while determining if there are issues with the validity of the divorce documents.

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