The importance that Australian households place on property investments has been highlighted by a recent Family Court case, where one man attempted to have his marriage annulled after discovering his former wife had lied about the actual value of property she owned.
The couple, who were married last November, split up in April after the husband discovered he had been misled about his wife’s financial capacity.
According to the husband’s affidavit, his wife told him before they were married that she property worth $200,000 and she was employed.
However, he subsequently found out that the property was only worth $140,000 and had an equity value of $20,000.
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He then applied to have the marriage annulled on the basis that there had been false representations made to obtain his consent to marriage.
However, Queensland Family Court judge Justice James Barry dismissed the application on the basis that a marriage can only be annulled due to fraud involved in the actual wedding ceremony, and not fraud used to gain consent to marry.
Barry then went on to site a number of hundred-year-old-cases from British law which essentially say that the Court cannot annul a marriage on the grounds that either party has been conned by false promises – it’s bride and groom beware.
One case cited by Barry dates from English case in the 1880s.
“The strongest case you could establish of the most deliberate plot, leading to a marriage the most unseemly in all disproportions… would not enable this Court to release him from chains which, though forged by others, he had riveted on himself,” the judge in the case said.
“If he is capable of consent and has consented, the law does not ask how the consent was induced.”
However, Barry did deliver something of a message a support for the angry groom, saying he had done well to resist his wife’s attempts to take over his financial affairs.
“I would note in passing the husband was very wise when he rebuffed the inducements of the respondent to sign the house over to him so that she could manage his financial affairs.”
“I do not think he would have seen too much of the money had he done that, premised on the contents of his affidavit being correct.”