Relationship breakdown is often exceptionally challenging, and international divorce cases can be even more complicated and difficult to navigate.
Yvonne Gibney came to us to challenge her divorce settlement from her ex-husband Maurice Gibney, a wealthy oil industry contractor. We fought for a fairer deal for Yvonne and proved that the courts won’t tolerate dishonesty.
Here’s Yvonne’s story about her journey and working with our family law team.
“I was married to Maurice for 19 years. We had one son together, Sebastian, who’s now 22. Maurice and I had initially met, lived and worked together overseas, but moved back to England to settle and purchased a home in Wirral.
Maurice continued to work abroad in Oman and would regularly fly home on leave. I had no reason to not trust him. But things started to change and his behaviour became concerning. We had less and less contact from Maurice and after a series of events I decided the marriage was over, so I started divorce proceedings against him through a local solicitor. I later discovered that this was just two months before he committed bigamy.
The divorce was challenging and Maurice did everything he could to make things difficult and hide information from the courts. I lost confidence in my solicitors so I started to take matters into my own hands and did a bit of investigating myself. 11 months after, I was shocked to discover that my husband had actually married another woman even though he was still married to me.
I informed my former solicitors and the suspected bigamy was raised in court. Even though there were photos of his wedding online, he strongly denied it. Because of his denial, the judge would not acknowledge it and we had to continue with the divorce as if nothing had happened.
Surely bigamy would be an important factor in my divorce. I felt they didn’t have my best interests at heart and were just following their own procedures rather than truly listening to me. It was then I filed a police report.
After our divorce was finalised, Maurice was eventually convicted of bigamy after forging our decree absolute and other official documentation to enable the bigamous marriage. He eventually got a lenient six months sentence suspended for two years.
During the investigation, it became apparent that Maurice had also hidden his true wealth and faked financial documents to deliberately mislead the courts – I never got an explanation to why he wasn’t made accountable. By this point I lost faith in the justice system and the divorce process. It felt like no-one was on my side.
I contacted Irwin Mitchell in 2016 after seeing the results from the landmark Sharland vs Sharland Supreme Court case and after two years of trying to fight my own battles in court. There were similarities with my ex-husband, where there wasn’t full and frank disclosure of financial documents during the divorce, resulting in an unfair settlement.
We had a long way to go and most of my friends told me I would never win, but I couldn’t let his lies and dishonesty go unchallenged. I was immediately impressed with Irwin Mitchell’s approach. Their passion for family law was apparent by their knowledge, expertise and commitment, but they also appreciated the emotional impact our case had for me and my son. They de-mystified the legal process, fully involved us throughout, were in regular contact and always made themselves available.
They left no stone unturned, fighting to get information from Maurice’s bank in Oman to try to find out his true net worth. They confirmed that he had faked documents during the original divorce to hide the extent of his wealth, and to conceal his double lifestyle and the marriage to his new ‘wife’.
The week we won the case, I finally got justice. The reality of that win was financial security for my family and to bring us closer to closure after five difficult years. I’ll always be indebted to my team for what they achieved for us.
We just wanted a fair deal, not one based on misinformation and dishonesty, so that we could finally begin to move on.
The emotional damage on me and my son was truly devastating. A divorce is already stressful enough and leaves you emotionally vulnerable, without suspecting your husband of bigamy and having criminal investigations involved. We just wanted what’s fair.
I knew my ex-husband had misled me, my son and both the British and Omani courts. In the real world there are rules, and Maurice has repeatedly shown complete disregard for them. I’m delighted the court finally saw the truth so that my son and I can now start again. I couldn’t have done it without Irwin Mitchell – they’ve helped me to protect what matters most.”
Read more about how our family law lawyers can support you
Visit Yvonne's website for updates on the book she's written about her experiences, 'Face of a Bigamist'.
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