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Court rejects divorce suit over signature mismatch

Milimani Senior Resident Magistrate Maryanne Murage found that the woman did not sign the court papers. [iStockphoto]

A court in Nairobi has thrown out a divorce case a woman filed against her husband over doubts if she was the one who signed the divorce papers.

Milimani Senior Resident Magistrate Maryanne Murage found that the woman did not sign the court papers, therefore rendering her three-year-old case defective.

According to the magistrate, the law requires that a person seeking to divorce another has to personally sign the papers.

“I warn myself that I am not an expert in matters of handwriting but I take notice that the signature appearing in the petition is different from the one in the witness statement as well as verifying affidavit. I have no doubt in my mind that the petitioner did not sign the petition, thus offending the provisions of rule 6(2) of the Marriage (Matrimonial proceedings) Rules 2020,” ruled Murage.

In this case, the woman codenamed VFM was seeking to end her marriage with the man codenamed AWG.

However, AWG’s lawyer Shadrack Wambui argued that the case was defective as the signature in VFM’s court papers was not hers.

According to Wambui, the person who is seeking a divorce must sign the papers. “The only exception or excuse to this mandatory requirement is to be done with the express consent or permission from the court,” argued the lawyer. According to him, the woman’s lawyer signed the court papers. He added that VFM did not also ask for the court’s authority to have another person sign the papers on her behalf.

“We urge this court to strike out the divorce petition dated December 3, 2019, with costs,” Wambui said.

On the other hand, VFM urged the court to dismiss the application.

She said she had signed the witness statement accompanying the petition, adding that it would be too harsh to strike out the case on the basis of not having a signature on the petition.

VFM urged the magistrate to consider that at the heart of the case was a broken marriage whose parties cannot patch their differences.