Tali’ah Aquilini’s voice broke when she was asked to affirm the evidence she was about to give was true. Fighting back tears, she whimpered, “I do,” the words that typically mark the beginning of a marriage now signalling the end of hers to the co-owner of the Vancouver Canucks.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge Wednesday granted Francesco Aquilini and his wife of nearly 20 years their divorce. The case had been scheduled to go to trial this week, but the parties announced Monday they had reached a settlement, averting what had been expected to be high-profile if not salacious proceedings.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but Mr. Aquilini’s lawyers previously said the deal would have no bearing on the hockey club. Ms. Aquilini will receive sole custody of the three younger children, though Mr. Aquilini will have parenting time and must be consulted on important issues. (The couple have four children together, one of whom is in university.) The divorce order will take effect in one month.
Ms. Aquilini briefly testified Wednesday and affirmed there was no possibility of reconciliation.
Outside court, she told reporters it was very sad the marriage had to come to an end. However, she said she had no choice but to ask for a divorce.
“My priority through this whole process has been the protection and care of my children, who are the most precious treasures in my life,” she said, her voice again breaking.
When asked why she had to seek a divorce, Ms. Aquilini paused, sighed, then said, “Um, circumstances came to light that weren’t conducive to a marriage.”
She had previously accused her husband of adultery, but the judge had ruled that argument wouldn’t be permitted.
Ms. Aquilini said she’ll now focus on her children, who wanted the matter to end. Ms. Aquilini was asked whether she received any equity in her husband’s businesses, but she said she had agreed not to discuss that.
Mr. Aquilini was not in court Monday or Wednesday. After the settlement was first announced, he issued a statement that said he was “pleased” the couple would be able to keep their personal lives private, “and, most importantly, avoid the negative impact of a trial on the children we both love.”
His lawyers did not comment after court Wednesday.
Mr. Aquilini is a partner in the Aquilini Investment Group, along with his parents and two brothers. The case had appeared poised to shed some light on the private corporation’s holdings and value, which has been estimated in the billions but not been clearly stated.
Aquilini Investment Group purchased one half of the Canucks in 2004, and the other half in 2006. Its holdings also include several condo developments.