G.A.M. v F.A.M.

JurisdictionBahamas
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeEvans, J.
Judgment Date06 Mar 2015
Docket Number2012/FAM/DIV/00382

Supreme Court

Evans, J.

2012/FAM/DIV/00382

G.A.M.
and
F.A.M.
Appearance:

Mr. Roger Gomez for petitioner

Mr. Donovon Gibson for respondent

Family Law - Husband and wife — Application for ancillary relief — Alimony — Section 29, Matrimonial Causes Act.

Evans, J.
1

This action was commenced by Petition filed on the 23 July 2012 wherein the petitioner sought inter alia dissolution of the marriage on the grounds of the respondent's cruelty. The parties were married on the 8 August 2008 and at the time of the marriage, the petitioner was 35 and the respondent was 42.

2

The respondent did not contest the Petition and a Decree Nisi was granted on the 10 January 2013 the Decree Nisi was made Absolute on the 3 May 2013. There being no children of the marriage the petitioner filed a Notice of Application for Ancillary Relief on the 14 May 2013 seeking only that the petitioner be awarded alimony. I heard the application on the 2 December 2013 and permitted the parties to supply written submissions by the 6 January 2014. The respondent complied but unfortunately not withstanding extensions granted as of today's date I have not received any submissions from the petitioner.

3

In support of her application the petitioner filed four Affidavits on the 9 May 2013, 17 September 2013 and two on the 14 November 2013. The respondent filed two affidavits on the 29 July 2013 and the 19 September 2013 respectively in opposition to the application.

4

In her affidavit filed on the 9 May 2013 in support of her application the petitioner makes the following assertions:–

  • “4. That the respondent enjoys a comfortable lifestyle and is able to afford fine food, clothing and travel in addition to the usual responsibilities in life.

  • 5. That the respondent made it clear that once I agreed to marry him that I would become the First Lady of the Church and remained unemployed. The respondent stated that he would attend to all of my financial needs.

  • 6. That about one (1) month after the marriage the respondent spent close to Eight thousand dollars ($8,000.00) updating my wardrobe and personally choosing clothing and accessories as he ensured that I maintained an image.

  • 7. That I was intentionally made unaware of any matters to the maintenance of the matrimonial home and I was always advised that I should just relax and enjoy the life that I was afforded.

  • 8. That the respondent never allowed me to physically handle cash. The respondent would have assistants attend to the purchase of groceries and other items needed for the matrimonial home and myself.

  • 9. That the respondent paid for vacations and was able to accommodate travel at least Four (4) times per year.

  • 10. That the respondent constantly implied and expressly stated that I would be constantly dependent on him for anything that I needed.

  • 11. That I searched and discovered a job at Scotiabank. The letter confirming the offer of Senior Manager and Investment in July 2009 is attached and marked as Exhibit “GAM2”.

  • 12. That the respondent was furious at the idea of my seeking employment and to make peace I rejected the offer although I accepted the same in writing.

  • 13. That I returned to Nassau from Grand Bahama after experiencing marital issues and found employment at Wemco Security from September 2009 to January 2010.

  • 15. That as a result of the respondent's continuous harassment at work I was unable to cope and resigned from Wemco in January 2010.

  • 16. That I remained in Nassau due to the tension and issues in the marriage from January 2010 to July 2011.

  • 17. That during this period the respondent continued to maintain all of my needs including but not limited to the following monthly expenses:–

a. Rent

$800.00

b. Groceries

600.00

c. Gasoline

360.00

d. Clothing

250.00

e. Personal effects

160.00

Total

$2,170.00

  • 18. That during the last few months of marriage the respondent continued to pay all utilities and maintained me in a standard I grew accustomed to.

  • 19. That once the marriage broke down the respondent suddenly withdrew all financial support which has left me in a vulnerable position.”

5

The respondent in his affidavit in response filed on the 29 July 2013, tells a completely different story of how the finances of the family were dealt with. He denied receiving a salary from his church but indicated that the church instead paid his expenses but provided him with no money. He acknowledged receiving an annual salary of $12,500.00 from a Government appointment to a post in which he served. He also asserted that his commitments did not allow him to travel on vacation four (4) times a year nor could he afford to do so.

6

In the aforesaid affidavit the respondent made the following assertions:–

  • “11. Paragraph 10 and 12 of the Affidavit are denied. I never discouraged the petitioner from working and I never indicated to her that she should be my dependent expressly or impliedly.”

  • 13. Paragraph 14 I of the affidavit is denied. At no time did I seek to harass the petitioner or make her professional life difficult. I think I visited her work place on one occasion.

  • 18. The petitioner is young and highly educated. She is able to pursue a career which she clearly did throughout the marriage.”

7

The parties filed additional affidavits in which the petitioner sought to paint a picture of a lavish life style which she got accustomed to and the respondent sought to show that he did nothing outside of what a normal husband did. He denied purchasing clothes valued in excess of $3,000.00 for the petitioner. The respondent also spoke of seeking assistance from his friends and colleagues in locating a job for the petitioner but he concluded that it was his view that the petitioner did not really want to work.

8

The petitioner's claim is best reflected in her affidavit in which she provided a summary of all of her claims which are detailed as follows:–

  • “2. I make this application for alimony for several reasons; that when I married the respondent herein he literally took over my life and made specific demands of me as to my life style, dress and employment. The respondent insisted that I did not work as his wife in order for me to support him emotionally as the Pastor of his church, so that I would be free to travel with him on his many speaking engagements and as he used to put it “to support his image to his followers”.

  • 3. That as a result of his request I left my job and devoted myself completely to him and his mission which meant that I was financially dependent on him during the course of our marriage. I did this because I was in love with him but I did have concerns about my responsibility for my daughter who is not a child of the marriage as there is an arrangement between her biological father and me wherein it is agreed that I am to pay for half of her care. To alleviate my concerns and ensure that I did not work he paid my share of the expenses and also took care of my daughter as well as myself.

  • 4. That environment in the respondent's church is a sub-culture and basically cult like in its fashion and operation. That my pre-existing wardrobe was no longer suitable for him and the needs of...

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