Court annuls 26-year marriage of convenience
A court yesterday annulled a 26year marriage after it heard how the woman acted under pressure from her mother and financial problems, and the man chose to marry to get rid of his own mother.
The woman filed a court application claiming that the February 1990 marriage was vitiated by a serious defect of discretion of judgement, that it was impossible for the two parties to fulfil their obligations and that consent was obtained through violence and fear.
The woman told Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro that she became a widow just two years into her first marriage, which had produced a child. She found herself alone and started suffering from acute depression. Her mother had fallen ill after suffering from a stroke and her father had died just five months after her first husband passed away. She was going through a very hard time and would sleep for days on end as a result of the anti-depressants she took. The woman said she was unemployed and the little money she had came from her widower’s pension.
One day she was at her mother’s house and she came face to face with the man, who had shown interest in her. Until then the thought of a new relationship had not even crossed her mind but her mother urged her to start dating her future husband, who “seemed like a nice chap.” The mother wanted her to marry the man so that they would not “live in sin.”
This, coupled with her financial problems, pushed her into dating the man and a few months later they wed and moved in together.
The court heard how the marriage was troubled from the very beginning. The man’s character changed and he turned aggressive towards the woman. He admitted to her that he had only married her because he felt sorry for her and because he wanted to leave his mother’s house.
After a short period the man left the matrimonial home and the two have been living separately ever since.
The man told the court how he came from a family of 14 children. At 17 years of age he started working on an oil rig and his mother expected him to hand over his entire salary so that she would have money to raise his siblings. He wanted to leave home.
He also said he was a shy person who found it difficult to date women. When he found out about the recently widowed woman he felt sorry for her but also yearned for company so he decided to approach her.
The man said he knew about her fragile state and was also aware of her mother’s pressure but agreed to marry her because he wanted to get rid of his own mother. He confirmed that the marriage hit the rocks after a short while and that had left the matrimonial home.
The Family Court, presided over by Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro, found that the pressure mounted by the woman’s mother did not amount to violence as defined by the law. The mother was ill and in a poor state of health and her pressure could not remotely be considered as being a threat or lead to fear.
The court said the couple was aware that things were moving too fast and this, in itself, showed that the two were fully aware of the meaning of marriage and of the rights and duties that came with it. This meant that there was no lack of discretion of judgement. Besides, this was not the woman’s first experience in marriage.
However there was no doubt that this was simply a marriage of convenience. The woman had married to solve her financial problems and the man had married to get rid of his mother.
The court said it was satisfied that the couple had not wed for the reciprocal duties and rights that came with marriage. Externally they had gone through the marriage ceremony but internally they had excluded the duties essential for a conjugal life. This led to a total simulation of marriage.
For these reasons the marriage was declared null and void and the couple were ordered to share the legal expenses.