When a local woman who neither filed nor was served with divorce papers learned she was divorced last week, she was taken by surprise.
But Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Detective Mike King got to the bottom of it, and husband Demario Clark, 27, and his girlfriend, Lisa McKinney, 50, were arrested for forging Lashonda Clark’s name on documents last Wednesday.
There were, however, a lot more problems with the divorce than just a waiver with the victim’s forged name.
The Judgment of Divorce signed by Caddo District Judge Charles Tutt, who was filling in for Judge Robert Waddell that day, had a whole world of problems packed into that three-page petition filed only five days earlier.
In fact, the forged waiver was just the tip of the iceberg.
The forged waiver was notarized by a suspended notary public; the Petition for Divorce stated the couple ceased living together two months before they were married; and most damaging of all, a marriage license issued in Caddo stating the marriage was a covenant marriage, which is clearly noted on the top left corner of that license (see above).
The Rev. C.E. McClain, who officiated at the Clark’s wedding on April 25, 2014, confirmed the Clarks, indeed, had a covenant marriage. He told NBC6 when the couple decided they wanted a covenant marriage, he counseled them as to the seriousness of taking such a step.
The Covenant Marriage Act, passed by the Louisiana Legislature was first signed into law in July 1997 by then Gov. Mike Foster. It requires pre-marital counseling, and prohibits divorce with the exceptions of adultery, a spouse being sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor, physical or sexual abuse of a spouse or a child.
In addition, it requires counseling a legal separation with counseling before and during that separation, which can be as long as two years, but as short as one year, and, finally, in accordance with Louisiana RS 9:272 C…”A covenant marriage agreement may not be dissolved, rescinded, or otherwise terminated by the mutual consent of the spouses.”
So, even if the documents had not been forged, the Secretary of State suspended the license of the notary public whose signature is on the forged document in December 2017, the five-day quickie divorce would be in direct opposition to the laws set down for a covenant marriage.
On Friday, Clark, whose bond was set at $5,000, bonded out of Caddo Correctional Center on Friday. He is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday in Judge Brady O’Callaghan’s court; McKinney is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in O’Callaghan’s court on Sept. 19.
In light of all this, the question remains…is the divorce valid? A spokesperson from the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s office said they were told it is.