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Marriage & Divorce

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  • The Attorney General appealed from a decision to pronounce a decree nisi of nullity, following an Islamic marriage ceremony which the parties had known was of no legal effect. The couple had reached an agreed settlement, and so took no part in the appeal. A petitioner in separate nullity proceedings had been given permission to intervene, as were the campaign group Southall Black Sisters. The first issue was whether there are ceremonies or other acts which do not create a marriage, even a void marriage, within the scope of section 11 of the 1973 Act. The court concluded that there could be such ceremonies, and that they would not entitle the parties to a decree of nullity. The second issue was whether the ceremony in this case had been a non-marriage (or as the court preferred, non-qualifying ceremony) or a void marriage. A non-marriage would create no separate legal rights while a decree of nullity with regard to a void marriage would entitle a party to apply for financial remedy orders under the 1973 Act. Sir Terence Etherton MR, King LJ and Moylan LJ concluded that this had been a non-qualifying ceremony. The judge's order was set aside as there had been no ceremony in respect of which a decree of nullity could be granted. Judgment, 17/02/2020, free
  • The children had repeatedly told their guardian, and through her the court, that they wanted to continue living with their mother in England. The Spanish court had ordered that they live with their father in Spain. Russell J DBE found that on any objective and neutral analysis both children were habitually resident in England. They were settled here and were fully integrated into their schools and social environment. There was no significant evidence contrary to such a finding, and jurisdiction was with and in this court. The mother's appeal against enforcement of the Spanish order was allowed. The children would live with her, and would have contact with the father, subject to him providing written permission for the renewal of the children's passports, and documentary evidence that the Spanish order had been discharged and all criminal complaints in Spain against the mother had been dropped. Judgment, 06/02/2020, free
  • An application for a declaration in relation to the marital status of the parties pursuant to section 55 of the Family Law Act 1986. The male partner was a Dutch national. The female partner was from Somaliland. An issue had arisen as to whether their marriage in Somaliland was entitled to formal recognition in England and Wales. Roberts J found that the couple were validly married according to the law of Somaliland. Somaliland had not been recognised as a state by the British Government, but the Foreign & Commonwealth Office informed the judge that the Government would be unlikely to object to recognition on those grounds. The declaration sought was granted: the parties were validly married. Judgment, 27/01/2020, free
  • The father appealed against the registration of an order made in Poland, which had required him to pay £300 a month maintenance. He had paid this amount up until the CMS had made a new determination. An application to enforce the original order had been made to the Polish courts, who declined jurisdiction. HHJ Moradifar found that by 2012 jurisdiction in relation to the child maintenance was in England and thus the CMS was the competent authority. The father's application against registration of the Polish order was allowed. Judgment, 27/01/2020, free
  • The Bill makes important changes to the legal process for married couples to obtain a divorce, for civil partners to dissolve their civil partnership, or for obtaining a judicial separation. News, 09/01/2020, free

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