The divorce papers look forged. Should I sign them?
If you just got out of a marraige that was characterized by deceit and control, it can be difficult to know what to trust. In some cases, you may not feel like you can trust the documents that your ex-husband has given you. The documents might not look quite right, for example, and you might subject forgery in some cases. Knowing what to do with these documents is a good way to protect yourself legally and to avoid future problems with any kind of documentation.
In What Way?
It’s difficult to say what you should do if divorce papers look forged. After all, you need to be very specific as to what you mean by the statement that the papers look forged. There are very different possibilities depending on what aspects of the papers were forged, who might have forged them, and ultimately what might happen if any aspects of the paper aren’t what they seem. Taking a moment to be specific can be very helpful when determining what you should do now and, ultimately, what might happen with the divorce process later.
If you’re looking at the paperwork and think that his signature might have been forged, you may or may not be looking at a problem. If you reasonably think that the signature on the paper does not belong to your ex, you can’t accept the document as a valid legal document. You may, however, have your attorney call his attorney to make sure that the document really was signed by the person who was supposed to do the signing. You probably won’t be held at fault if you were delivered signed papers that aren’t quite right, but it’s much better to be safe than to be sorry.
If you receive papers that don’t look like they came from an attorney, you’re dealing with an entirely different matter. Your ex might be attempting to commit fraud, which can have serious repercussions from a legal standpoint. You should immediately let your attorney know about this so that he or she can take the next appropriate legal steps. You should absolutely never sign anything without getting legal advice, as a potentially fraudulent agreement might still put you on the hook for something that is not in your best interest.
Finally, it makes a difference if you think that parts of the document are forged. If it has been notarized but doesn’t carry the right seal or isn’t signed by a notary public, you should avoid signing the document until you can get legal counsel. This is a situation that could be used to defraud you, so you should be careful before agreeing to anything. If you are unsure about the veracity of the paperwork, always err on the side of caution. It might not make the other party happy, but you can request that the documents be put back together and that everything is signed again.
What it Might Mean
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to documentation that might have been forged. If you have no idea that the documents were forged and you signed them in good faith, you can absolutely challenge their validity in court later on. This can be particularly useful if your ex went out of his way to make the documents look real, as tampering with legal documents isn’t smiled upon by the court. You shouldn’t have to worry about signing the documents if you think they’re real, as the court will generally find in your favor once the fault is discovered.
The bad news comes for those who knowingly sign fraudulent papers. It’s hard to say that you were defrauded when you knew that there was a problem and you signed them anyway. Is it possible to get the paperwork voided if you suspect fraud? Of course, but it’s a much harder fight than if you simply refused to sign the paperwork in the first place. While you almost certainly won’t be found to be party to the fraud, your ex could argue that you agreed to any terms in the fradulent document because you never raised any concerns during the process.
If you have received paperwork that looks forged, don’t sign them. Instead, go directly to your attorney and have him or her contact your ex’s attorney. That attorney should let you know whether or not the paperwork was properly signed and notarized. If you don’t trust that your ex’s attorney is telling the truth, request the the paperwork be filled out again and that you sign it at the same time. This might be logistically difficult, but it may be the best way for you to avoid wondering whether or not the documents you signed were really valid.