Outer House grants divorce to Russian wife of Scotsman living in Dubai

Lady Wise
Lady Wise

The Outer House of the Court of Session has granted a decree of divorce to a domiciled Scot and his spouse living in Dubai.

The pursuer, YI, a qualified medical doctor originally from Russia, raised proceedings in Scotland on the basis of irretrievable breakdown due to unreasonable behaviour on the part of the defender, AAW. The date of separation was also disputed.

The case was heard by Lady Wise.

Rude sexual jokes

The couple met on an internet dating site and married in 2011. At the time of proceedings, the pursuer was 45 years old and the defender was 65 years old. They had one child together, JW, in 2012, who also had a half-brother from the defender’s previous relationship.

The defender raised divorce proceedings in Inverness Sheriff Court in 2019 on the basis of non-cohabitation as husband and wife for a period in excess of two years. Those proceedings were dismissed due to the defender not living in the sheriffdom. The defender then raised divorce proceedings in Dubai, which were ongoing concurrently with the Outer House proceedings raised by the pursuer.

The pursuer’s complaints centred around her husband’s controlling and domineering behaviour towards her, his speaking derogatorily to her and acting in a sexually inappropriate manner towards her generally. She also stated that towards the end of the marriage he began taking absences from home and she discovered condoms and email pictures of young women in his car and on an electronic device.

Specific examples given by the pursuer included the defender not letting her return to Russia with JW to see her mother, his making rude sexual jokes about her consorting with Pakistani taxi drivers, and not encouraging her to try and work as a doctor in Dubai. She also stated that he was “obsessed” with sex and would demand it of her daily after she fell pregnant with JW.

The pursuer also stated that she had not undertaken any remunerative employment since the date of their marriage, although she wanted to continue as a doctor if she could, and that the marriage broke down when she confronted her husband about the emails on his device and he walked out. He moved to new accommodation on 5 September 2018.

The defender disputed that his wife had wanted to work and denied all the pursuer’s allegations regarding his language towards and about her. He denied that his wife had found pictures of other women or condoms, and said that he could not remember what the cause of the final argument was.

A sort of slavery

In her opinion, Lady Wise stated that she found the pursuer to be “a generally credible witness” and said of her evidence: “The clear picture that emerged from the pursuer’s evidence was of a woman who had considered that, while it involved risk, it was worth leaving her family and work as a medical practitioner in Russia for the emotional security of an older man and the hope of children. She was prepared to put up with quite a lot of unpleasant behaviour, such as offensive remarks about her family and the defender’s control over her child’s citizenship and travel in return for that stability.”

She continued: “It became clear, however, that her views on any matter were totally disregarded and that the defender viewed her worth as merely the object of his excessive sexual demands.  That, coupled with her lack of financial independence and the relegation of her role to cooking and looking after her husband and son, led the pursuer to become unhappy and upset and feel trapped in ‘a sort of slavery’.”

Regarding the defender’s version of events, she said: “The defender’s position was highly unsatisfactory and indicative of the very behaviour about which the pursuer complained. His evidence on a passport for JW illustrated that it had never occurred to him that his wife, the child’s primary carer, should have a say in what passport or passports the child should hold. His assertion that he would make sure his wife never managed to take the child to Russia (even for a visit) by keeping his UK passport away from her was indicative of the controlling behaviour described by the pursuer.”

On the circumstances surrounding the ultimate breakdown of the marriage, she said: “In my view the pursuer’s position makes more sense because the discovery of messages from unknown women was the ultimate insult from a man whose controlling behaviour she had endured for the sake of their son. When she confronted the defender in anger he withdrew from the situation and thereafter it was inevitable that the relationship was at an end, albeit that the final departure by AAW to his new accommodation was not until 5 September 2018.”

Applying the law to the facts of the case, she said: “The evidence of the pursuer’s witnesses comprises mostly hearsay and so the weight of that evidence requires to be considered carefully. I have already indicated that I accept the evidence of [two of the pursuer’s witnesses] as providing support for and being consistent with the pursuer’s account on important matters.”

She concluded: “I am satisfied that the evidence of the pursuer on the four material areas listed as disputed issues is credible and can be relied on. There is also sufficient credible and reliable supporting evidence as required by section 8(3) of the Civil Evidence (Scotland) Act 1988. I find that the parties’ marriage has broken down irretrievably and that the defender has behaved in such a way that the pursuer cannot reasonably be expected to cohabit with him.”

For these reasons, Lady Wise granted decree of divorce. It was also concluded that the current care arrangements for JW, who was living with the pursuer in the former matrimonial home and had contact with the defender, were in his best interests and presented no impediment. 

© Scottish Legal News Ltd 2020

Other judgments by Lady Wise