ASSESSMENT QUESTION Amir met Georgia at a charity ball in 2006, when Amir was 23 and Georgia was 22. Amir is a professional footballer and plays for a premiership football club in the north of England. Georgia worked as a charity fundraiser from aged 18 but gave it up when her children were born. The couple fell in love and moved in together in 2007. They married in March 2008 in a small and private ceremony. Children soon followed, and twins (named Vanessa and Jamie) were born in 2010. The twins attend a fee-paying school near Manchester.
Before he met Georgia, Amir had been forced to marry a second cousin in a religious ceremony in Pakistan. It happened when Amir was 17 while he was on a trip with his family to visit relatives. At that time, Amir was unclear about his sexuality and thought that he might be gay. When his parents found out about this they arranged a forced marriage during what Amir thought was just a family holiday. Amir protested and was very upset about it but was threatened by some family members. After Amir returned to England his family tried to arrange for the woman he married to move to England but she could not get a visa. Amir has not heard from the second cousin since the ceremony.
Amir and Georgia enjoyed a happy marriage for a number of years and their wealth increased significantly during this time. Amirs average earnings during the marriage have been 2.5 million per year. This has enabled them to purchase a 3 million house in Cheshire and a 1.5 million villa in Majorca. They also have cash and investments worth around 5 million and a trust fund for the children worth 1 million. Finally, Amir has a Ferrari and a classic Porsche valued together at 500,000. Apart from the cars, all the assets are in joint names. Despite his successful career so far, Amir has recently struggled to get into the first team and thinks that his football career is coming to an end. He does not wish to play in the lower divisions and plans to do something completely different when he retires from football. He has six GCSEs, but no other qualifications. Similarly, Georgia does not expect to be able to return to fundraising but she would like to do a law degree and train to be a barrister. Georgia has four good A levels and her father is a barrister.
Prior to marrying, Amir asked his solicitors to prepare a pre-nuptial contract which stated that, in the event of divorce, neither party would have a claim on the others assets (Georgia had no assets to speak of at the time) except Amir would pay Georgia a sum equivalent to 50,000 for every year they were married. Georgia was advised by her solicitors not to sign the agreement, but she did anyway.
Over the last twelve months the marriage has become strained. Jamie has frequent ear infections and needs to have an operation to improve his hearing. As a result of this, he sleeps badly and Georgia is chronically tired from looking after him at night. This has affected Amir and Georgias physical relationship and they have not had sex for a few months. Georgia realises this is partly due to her but Amir has also shown no interest. She wonders if Amir is having a relationship with someone else. She has found receipts from restaurants and saw a reminder pop up on Amirs phone which said Meet J for lunch. He also stayed away overnight when his team recently played in London, which he would not usually do. Georgia has confronted him about it but he has denied anything is going on.
Amirs team has lost lots of matches recently and morale at the club is low. His father has also been diagnosed with a serious heart condition and he is worried about him. As a result of these matters Amir has become moody and detached, and now spends one or two nights each week away from home. He also sometimes gets drunk and becomes aggressive towards Georgia. He has no patience with the children and often shouts at them when they are being noisy. Last week he was violent towards Georgia on two occasions, once when he threw his phone at her (causing a cut on her cheek) and the other when he pushed her against a cupboard (cutting her lip). Georgia has had enough of Amirs bad behaviour and is worried about the effect it is having on the children too. She feels that Amir is no longer interested in her as a person and they never go out together which makes her feel sad.
Georgia feels that the marriage might be over and wants some legal advice on her options.
Advise Georgia, who wishes to know:
1. Whether there is any ground on which her marriage to Amir can be annulled.
2. Alternatively, whether she has any basis to divorce Amir.
(15 marks) 3. What financial and property orders the court may make on divorce and how the various factors in s.25 MCA 1973 will be applied here. You should also advise Georgia on the approach of the court towards the pre-nuptial agreement and how the court might respond if Amir tries to argue that he should have a greater share of the assets because of his exceptional talent.
4. What orders she could obtain to protect her and the children from Amir and to enable her to stay in the Cheshire house in the short term at least. Your answer should apply the criteria which would be considered by the court in the making of those orders.
(25 marks) END OF ASSIGNMENT