Court an­nuls 26-year mar­riage of con­ve­nience

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Ju­lian Bon­nici

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.

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