Q&As

A final decree of nullity has been granted in respect of a bigamous marriage where one party knew that they were already married and the other party did not. The party without knowledge of the bigamy has made an application for financial orders. In such circumstances, would the Rampal v Rampal (No 2) and Whiston v Whiston line of authorities preclude the respondent from benefiting as a result of the applicant's financial application?

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Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 19/08/2019

The following Family Q&A Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A final decree of nullity has been granted in respect of a bigamous marriage where one party knew that they were already married and the other party did not. The party without knowledge of the bigamy has made an application for financial orders. In such circumstances, would the Rampal v Rampal (No 2) and Whiston v Whiston line of authorities preclude the respondent from benefiting as a result of the applicant's financial application?

Pursuant to section 11(b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973), a marriage is void if at the time of the marriage either party was already lawfully married or a civil partner. If a marriage is void, rather than a non-marriage, then the parties are entitled to a decree of nullity and an application for financial provision may be made. It is therefore clear that the party who was unaware of the bigamy at the time of the marriage is entitled to bring a claim. For a while, however, it was less clear whether the guilty party would be able to bring a claim for financial relief.

The case of Whiston v Whiston suggested that a party who was knowingly guilty of bigamy was debarred from bringing an application for financial relief. Russell LJ commented in the case that:

‘For a litigant to have to rely upon his or her criminal behaviour in order to get a claim on its feet is, in my judgment, offensive to the public conscience and contrary to public polic

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