Monday, August 20, 2012

A legal fight for love. Μια απο τις πολλές Ιστορίες των Ελληνων που τους ταλαιπωρεί η εκκλησία.

A bungle by the Greek Orthodox Church 26 years ago left Maria and Harry Gruber having to prove their 26 year marriage to the courts.
A legal fight for love

On March 5 1983, Maria and Harry Gruber were married in Agios Antonios Greek Orthodox Church in West Sunshine. They exchanged their vows to be lawfully wedded husband and wife in front of friends and family and in the eyes of God. But what was meant to be the happiest day of their life, is now tarnished after they found out that due to unlodged paperwork on the church's behalf, they weren't legally married. After 26 years living together as husband and wife, and after bringing up two daughters together, they were left wondering how could this happen?
In 2009, when Maria went to update a passport and was asked to produce a wedding certificate did she realise that her and her husband of 26 years weren't legally married.
"You can imagine the shock," she tells Neos Kosmos upon finding out that she wasn't married to the man she describes as the love of her life.
Maria went straight to the Greek Orthodox Church that married the couple 26 years earlier and although she was told the church would do all that they could to help, she said their assistance was fruitless. They had lost the marriage book that the couple had signed all those years ago, meaning there was no official record of their marriage.
"What we're worried about is if the whole book is gone, how many other's are in the same situation and not aware of it?" asks Maria.
Maria found out about her unmarried status by pure coincidence. She says back when they were married, couples weren't required to produce wedding certificates to get bank accounts, passports and other legal documents, but now with stricter legal requirements it's a must. She implores Victorian couples who were married at the church in question to enquire about their marital status.
The couple have endured emotional, financial stress and given up a lot of their own time to have this issue rectified. Feeling that their visit to the church was ineffective, they visited the Births, Deaths and Marriage offices in Victoria to see if they could rectify the situation.
"We had interviews, panel interviews, I went with my husband people that were at my wedding, I took the photo album, I took all the wedding service book and then they told me after the investigation that they can't [prove our marriage] as there was no date on your wedding album," Maria explains, adding that her hair on the day of her wedding resembled '80s actress Farrah Fawcett, proving that there is no way the wedding couldn't have taken place in the '80s!
The matter was then sent to the Attorney General's department in Canberra and after numerous phone calls back and forth, they're request still went unanswered - they were still unmarried in the eyes of the law.
It was a solicitor at Legal Aid that would be the one to follow this unusual case from start to end and finally provide the couple with an end to a very unfortunate situation. In the meantime, the couple had to get affidavits from their bridal party, friends and family and a statutory declaration from Pater Kyriacos - the priest who married them initially all those years ago, and who has since passed on.
The matter was then taken to the Family Court and it came down to a judge to view all the evidence and make the final decision on whether or not Maria and Harry Gruber were in fact married on 5 March 1983.
"The judge's opening sentence was 'you met at Altona beach on Valentine's day and 29 years later you are still together' and you could see that he was bemused by the case," explains Maria.
When the judge handed down his decision he declared in court that "in the end common sense prevails" and assured Maria and Harry he was going to issue them with a wedding certificate dated back to 5 March 1983.
After four frustrating years for the couple, it was finally announced two weeks ago that they were in fact married.
"It was very frustrating and they could see it was beyond a joke because someone stuffed up [at the church]; whoever was running their books did not do it right," she says.
"I advise everybody as soon as they are married to make sure their wedding documents are lodged.
"It's up to the priest or their clerk to post them and if they aren't going to post them then pass them on to you to do it and then get a wedding certificate printed from Births, Deaths and Marriages as that's the only proof that you were registered."
 From NEOS KOSMOS 21 Aug 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ψάξε στην Εφημερίδα

wibiya widget