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Bride discovers husband has another wife.

February 12, 2021

Chabra & Chabra [2020] FamCA 1113

On 22 December 2020 Mrs Chabra, applied to the Family Court of Australia for a decree of nullity of marriage. In other words, she applied to have her marriage become null and void.

Mr and Mrs Chabra were married in 2018 in the state of Queensland. In June 2019, Mrs Chabra became suspicious of her husband after he returned from a five-week overseas trip. Mr Chabra first came to Australia on a working visa, and he later obtained a visa allowing him to seek permission to travel to and from Australia. When Mr Chabra returned from his overseas trip, Mrs Chabra discovered a photograph in his phone of the passport of Mr Chabra’s first wife. Coincidentally, the passport was obtained on the same day Mr Chabra secured his visa for overseas travel, and it had Mr Chabra listed as her husband.

Mrs Chabra later fell pregnant to her husband and told the court that Mr Chabra then demanded that she “accept [the first wife] as a second wife in our relationship” . Mrs Chabra then discovered that Mr Chabra had transferred $80,000.00 to his first wife overseas, again with the argument that they introduce the first wife as a second wife to their relationship. Unfortunately, Mrs Chabra later miscarried and not long afterwards the couple separated.

During their Court hearing, the husband did not seek to file any material or cross-examine the wife to challenge her assertions. Justice Tree explained that the Marriage Act 1961 provides that a marriage is void where, among other circumstances, either of the parties is, at the time of the marriage, lawfully married to another person. As there is a presumption that a marriage is presumed valid, the onus was on Mrs Chabra the provide reasonable evidence that it was not. Mr and Mrs Chabra’s marriage was therefore declared void on the ground that the husband was lawfully married to another person.