Family Law Hub

Marriage & Divorce

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  • An application brought by the applicant to rectify, as he saw it, a decree of divorce granted in 1997, in relation to a 1994 marriage in London. The hearing proceeded in the absence of the former wife, who had asserted that they were still married as a result of a prior 1993 ceremony involving the same couple in Madrid. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, was satisfied that the earlier marriage had been a valid one. His order, made under FPR rule 4.1(6), would record that the marriage dissolved in 1997 was the true legal marriage between the couple, namely that celebrated in Madrid on 25 May 1993, and not the later English marriage which had no legal impact on their status. Judgment, 04/06/2020, free
  • The Attorney General appealed from a decision to pronounce a decree nisi of nullity following a marriage ceremony which the parties had known was of no legal effect. The petitioner and respondent had reached an agreed settlement, so arguments on matters of law were made on behalf of the first intervener, a petitioner in separate nullity proceedings. The issues were whether there could be ceremonies or other acts which do not create a marriage, even a void marriage, within the scope of section 11 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973; and if there could be, whether this had been such a ceremony, currently described as a non-marriage, or whether instead, as Williams J had decided, it had created a void marriage. Sir Terence Etherton MR (the Master of the Rolls), King LJ DBE and Moylan LJ set aside the judge's order as there was, in this case, no ceremony in respect of which a decree of nullity could be granted pursuant to the provisions of section 11. The judge's approach was supported by neither the European Convention on Human Rights nor the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1990. Judgment, 28/05/2020, free
  • The husband alleged fraud and sought to set aside a decree absolute and a financial consent order, both from 2011, in proceedings involving what was described as "frankly shambolic and unacceptable case preparation", leading to the loss of a full court day. Mr Recorder Allen QC found as a fact that the husband had been unaware of the divorce and financial proceedings instigated by the wife. Although Mr Recorder Allen QC had made a finding of fraud, the divorce petition was voidable rather than void, and he declined to set it aside in this case. The financial consent order was set aside and the matter would be listed for a new directions hearing. Judgment, 19/03/2020, free
  • A four-year-old girl with British citizenship had been taken to Egypt, and the court had to determine whether she had been habitually resident in England and Wales before then and thus wrongfully removed, and, if she had not, whether the court had jurisdiction to order her summary return. The father contended that the removal was pursuant to the terms of an order made in Beirut. Both parents were Lebanese nationals, and both were currently in England, the child having been left with family members of the father. The mother had accused the father of domestic violence. MacDonald J was satisfied that the child had been habitually resident in this jurisdiction, and that the court retained jurisdiction under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. The daughter was a British citizen and both parents were here and intended to remain here, making this the appropriate forum for determining the welfare issues. Returning the daughter from Egypt would create the best chance of her resuming contact with her mother, and there was no one in Egypt with parental responsibility for her. She should be returned from Egypt. The existence of the Beirut order did not prevent this. Judgment, 17/03/2020, free
  • The mother was of the Satmar tradition, the father Modern Orthodox. The father sought an order for the children to live with both parents and stay with him every Sunday night. The mother applied to prevent the father issuing further applications for a period of at least three years. HHJ Rowe QC concluded that the children should live with both parents: "There should not remain in place an order that might be taken to imply that the mother is more important than the father in the children’s lives." The children would spend alternate Sabbath weekends and key festival days with their father: removing the children from his religious life would cause profound damage to their relationship. The mother's application was refused. The exclusion of the father from the children's education continued to be a concern, and it would be contrary to the children's best interests to limit his ability to seek the assistance of the court. Judgment, 25/02/2020, free

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