Codrington v Codrington

JurisdictionTrinidad & Tobago
CourtHigh Court
JudgeCross, J.
Judgment Date14 June 1976
Neutral CitationTT 1976 HC 22
Docket NumberNo. M-159 of 1975
Date14 June 1976

High Court

Cross, J.

No. M-159 of 1975

Codrington
and
Codrington
Appearances:

Mr. B. Ramlogan for the applicant.

Mr. L.E.M. Campbell for the respondent.

Family law - Husband and wife — Maintenance — Wife complained that husband had wilfully neglected to provide reasonable maintenance and sought an order for maintenance — Court awarded the wife $900 monthly.

Cross, J.
1

This is a summons by the wife, in which she complains that her husband has willfully neglected to provide reasonable maintenance for her and she asks for an order for maintenance. The parties were married more than 40 years ago and the marriage was “a very turbulent one” according to the husband. When quarrels arose he accused her of adultery with a man who, he alleges, was the father of their third and last child now 37 years of age. The wife strenuously denies the adultery.

2

In any case co-habitation continued until May, 1971 when there occurred an incident which started off a train of events leading to the present proceedings. On 7th May, 1971, Seeranie Harrinarine, a maid employed in the home of the Codringtons wrote a letter admitting that in the wife's absence the husband had had sexual intercourse with her against her will and asserting that the husband had said that he loved her. On the 27th December 1971 the wife was treated by Dr. Vilain for injuries which the husband admits were caused by a number of slaps he could not remember how many-administered by him which caused her to fall to the ground injuring her hip.

3

The parties continued to live together but in May 1972, with the intention of going to Canada without her husband's knowledge the wife applied for a passport in her maiden name as a result of which she was charged with and pleaded guilty to making a false statement to obtain a passport. She was reprimanded and discharged by the magistrate. In December 1972 the wife filed a petition for divorce citing Seeranie Harrinarine as co-respondent but on the 27th March, 1973 the parties resumed co-habitation and on 17th May 1973 she discontinued the divorce proceedings. However in June 1973 co-habitation ceased and on 1st July 1973 the wife left for Canada where she remained until March, 1975 when she returned to Trinidad and went to live elsewhere. On the 7th April, 1975 her solicitors wrote the husband asking whether he would consent to a divorce on the ground that the parties had lived apart for 2 years. The husband did not reply to that letter and the present proceedings were commenced on the 9th Junes 1975.

4

All the evidence indicates that since June, 1973 when the husband gave the wife $1,000 on the occasion of her visit to Canada he has not maintained her. It is also undisputed that since then the wife has lived separate and apart from the husband. Generally speaking a husband is under no liability to maintain a wife in a separate establishment. So long as she remains and insists on remaining in a separate establishment without the consent of her husband. But, as was pointed out by Willmer E.J. in Lindwall v. Lindwell [1967] 1 All E.R. 470 at 473: “This general proposition is, of course, subject to exceptions. First, if the husband is himself in desertion (i.e. if he has expelled the wife ………..) then quite clearly he must maintain her in a separate establishment.”

5

Again, in Price v. Price (1951) P. 413 Hodson L.J., said a t p. 421:- “A wife has no right to separate maintenance in a different home unless she can justify the fact that she is living apart from her husband.” It is also cleat on the authorities that a husband may be in desertion not only if he expels his wife from the matrimonial home but if his behaviour is such that any right-thinking person would come to the conclusion that the wife could not reasonably be expected to live with him. ( Livingstone-Stallard v. Livingstone-Stallard [1974] 2 All E.R. 766).

6

I have had the advantage of seeing both the husband and wife when they gave evidence under cross-examination and I have no hesitation whatsoever characterising the husband as a violent, callous, self-opinionated man with a complete disregard for the truth and an utter unconcern for the sanctity of an oath. Having sworn in his affidavit filed on 6th August, 1975 that “extravagant requests” by his wife (to which he acceded) for money for expensive cosmetic surgery in Canada and for $3,000 (Canadian) had adverse and continuing effects on his business he quite readily admitted in cross-examination that these statements were untrue and that in fact he provided none of this money. His public disclosure of the alleged paternity of his child after 37 years he attempts to justify by saying that his son is now old enough to know. He admits to assaulting his wife on two occasions but did not regard this as “violence” and the attitude he displayed when asked out these incidents was, to say the least, surprising in its casualness. One further example of the husband's carelessness with the truth should suffice. In paragraph 13 of his aforesaid affidavit he deposed that he is “a transport contractor working for Texaco Trinidad Inc.” He makes no mention the fact that he was then under contract to T & M...

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