The Supreme Court was asked to provide judgment on whether the English court, in this case, has jurisdiction to make a maintenance order under section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 when the parties mostly lived in Scotland and the divorce proceedings were conducted there.
The parties married in England in 1994, however they lived in Scotland between 1995 and 2012. The wife returned to England following the parties' separation. She issued a divorce petition in England in July 2013. The husband subsequently issued a writ for divorce in Scotland in October 2014. The wife agreed to the divorce being dealt with in Scotland, however she later issued an application for maintenance in England. Maintenance was awarded by the English court. The husband appealed this decision however his appeal was dismissed.
It has now been reported that Mr Villiers intends to apply to the Scottish courts to annul the marriage without any financial settlement. He alleges that his wife lied about her age and therefore denied him the opportunity to have more children. The couple were unable to conceive after having one child so the husband now speculates he may have married 'under false pretences'. He believed that she was 35 and not 40 at the time of marriage. Not only could this result in the wife receiving no financial settlement following their divorce, it is questionable whether this may impact on the maintenance award.
Whether Mr Villiers will proceed with this argument remains to be seen however the jurisdictional issues within this case are fascinating.
Whilst our lawyers at VWV solely practice the law of England and Wales we have considerable experience dealing with cases concerning multiple jurisdictions.