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Forging divorce decree is not a crime for Illinois man

The law works in mysterious ways sometimes. A recent case in Illinios that involved divorce and a religious annulment is a great example.

The man at the center of the case wanted to marry in the Greek Orthodox Church. Before he could take his bride down the aisle, though, he needed to have his first marriage annuled -- not by the state, but by the church. The church wanted a copy of his divorce decree, so he provided one.

The problem is that it was a fake, according to prosecutors. Authorities said the man forged on the dotted line to make the document look real, first with a bogus stamp of a Cook County judge and then with an attorneys faked signature. That, law enforcement said, was forgery, a criminal offense.

Not so, said his attorney. The document was not filed with a state agency; they were handed over to the church. The sole purpose of the decree was to obtain an annulment from the church, not the state, so charging the man with forgery was a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.

The court agreed, and the man was acquitted. He maintains that the charges were as bogus as the alleged signature. He also says that the church has not followed up on the allegations.

In the end, then, no harm no foul. Just as there is a separation between church and state, there is a difference between a legal annulment and a religious annulment. From this man's experience, it may be best to consult an attorney in either situation.


Source: CBS Local, "Charges Dismissed Against Man Accused Of Forging Divorce Document," Mike Krauser, April 30, 2013

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