A judge has rejected a claim made by a man that he was never legally married because his wife married an imposter instead of him.
Amit Goyal, 36, formerly a high earning banker at UBS, told the judge that his wife should not be allowed to divorce him and claim financial support because they were never married at all.
However, Judge Mark Everall QC granted Mrs Goyal a decree nisi last year after describing her husband as an “unreliable” witness and ruling that “there was a valid marriage between the couple”.
After meeting on the Indian matrimonial website Shaadi.com in 2003 the couple made arrangements to marry in India and then relocate to the UK.
Although they became engaged only three days after meeting, Mrs Goyal’s family were happy with the match and approved of the hasty nuptials.
“Mrs Goyal and her parents were happy to go along with the plan. Mr Goyal was a well-educated young man with evidently good prospects in the well-paid world of international finance,” Judge Everall said in his ruling.
The bride’s family organised a short ceremony to take place at Meerut’s luxury Hotel Samrat Heavens, so that her visa application could get underway. Further lavish festivities were then planned for after this short ceremony had taken place.
However, Mr Goyal claimed that his fiancée married another man that day, and that he was six hours away in his home town of Bathinda.
To support his case Mr Goyal drew the judge’s attention to expert evidence saying that a photograph, supposedly depicting the groom on the marriage certificate, was not of Mr Goyal, and a thumb print on the document, which was purportedly his, belonged to someone else.
Nonetheless, the judge said that “the overwhelming probability on all the evidence is that Mrs Goyal did not marry, and did not intend to marry, a different Amit Goyal on 15th September, 2003.
On appeal, Mr Goyal argued in person that it “simply was not possible” that he could have made the ceremony in time, because he was in Bathinda at 9am on the day of the wedding.
But Lord Justice Kitchin said: “Standing back and having regard to all the evidence and Judge Everall’s reasoning, I do not detect that he had any real difficulty in arriving at his conclusion.”
During their time together the couple lived in France and the UK. They have one daughter who was born in 2007 and is now six. However, their relationship ‘irretrievably broke down’ and Mrs Goyal moved out of their home in Canary Wharf in 2011.