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University lecturer “never legally married” to ex-wife

A university lecturer locked in a courtroom battle with his estranged wife over ownership of a £1 million house has claimed they were never legally married.

The man, who lectures at a university in Oxford, left his wife after she reportedly accused him of infidelity and attacked him in 2012. She pleaded guilty to assault The Mail reports. Both filed for divorce the following year. They had been together for 14 years and had a daughter.

The lecturer, born in the Middle East, now insists that their initial religious marriage was never legally registered and was therefore a ‘non-marriage’.

Having moved to the UK some years before, he did not attend the couple’s arranged marriage back in his home country, instead sending his brother as a stand-in. This was permissible under the country’s legal system.

His wife then moved the UK and the couple then underwent a face-to-face marriage ceremony in Oxfordshire.

Last year a Judge ruled that the couple were legally married but unsatisfied, the man took his case to the Court of Appeal.

His barrister told the court:

“He contends that the expert evidence has clearly established that the parties’ religious marriage had not been properly registered and was not valid. There was no evidence of any application having ever been made to the Syrian court for registration. There were no authenticated supporting documents. The judge was wrong to find that the marriage was properly registered (and) should have held that this was therefore a ‘non-marriage’ ”.

Counsel for the wife, meanwhile, suggested that the husband was simply trying to evade his financial responsibilities.

“The marriage was an arranged one but there is no doubt that the marriage ceremony was intended as a binding and valid ceremony…. They continued to live as man and wife for the next decade.”

The couple are embroiled in a separate dispute over ownership of the house in northern Oxford. The husband owned the property before their marriage and claims it should be excluded from the still pending financial settlement.

Court of Appeal Judges said they would announce their decision at a later date.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Can you tell us who the court was or the court number or the initials or whatever appeared on the Cause List? I would hate to miss the outcome of this one.
    Was the ceremony in Oxfordshire one of these non-marriages – no notice to the Registrar beforehand and no registration afterwards, no attempt to comply with the Marriage Act? If it was I suppose all will depend on the status of the ceremony abroad, won’t it?

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