Family Law Hub

Marriage & Divorce

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  • 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
  • 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

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