High Court declares marriage invalid due to husband’s brain damage

A High Court judge has declared a marriage invalid because the brain-damaged husband was not capable of understanding its implications.

Sitting at the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Bodey said the groom “did not have the capacity freely to decide to enter into a marriage”.

According to a report in The Sunday Times, the man, in his 50s, restarted a relationship with the woman in 2007 after they had been childhood sweethearts. But the man suffered a brain injury the following year when he was hit by a bus.

The judge acknowledged that the registrar who conducted the marriage ceremony in November 2010 had thought the man understood the situation. He said “I am getting married” and announced that “I have been waiting for her for a long time”.

Nevertheless, the man had a “deceptive social veneer”, said the judge. He was capable of everyday conversations but could only remember his wife or the fact that they were married for brief periods.

The man’s wife did not pass on a note from the man to his mother announcing the marriage as she was concerned his family would not approve. The note read:

“Dear Mam … if it is possible I want to be living with [the woman] who is the biggest love of my life.”

She took him from his placement to the registry office using a secret code word.

A few months later the woman tried to take him to live with her but the local authority applied to the courts for his return.

Mr Justice Bodey  ruled in favour of the local authority, who had brought proceedings to invalidate the marriage. But the judge and local authority also both acknowledged the woman’s devotion.

The judge said:

“She has demonstrated a remarkable and creditable commitment to him, visiting him more or less daily and championing her perception of his best interests. She has given up her employment as a learning support assistant for sixth form pupils in order to be available for him.”

Photo by Theophile Escargot via Flickr under a Creative Commons licencee

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

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