Woman cries at marriage certificate during divorce case

Six international divorce proceedings among cases before Dublin Circuit Family Court

Six international divorce proceedings were among cases before Judge Susan Ryan at the Dublin Circuit Family Court on Friday, including one case in which the woman began to cry when she was asked to identify her marriage certificate.

The court heard the couple had two young children, both of whom were now living abroad with their mother. They had an amicable relationship, with maintenance and access already agreed between them.

They had been married for less than a year when their relationship broke down, the court was told.

The woman had returned to Ireland to attend the hearing. Giving evidence, she began to cry and looked across at her husband when she was asked to identify a document.

“It’s our marriage certificate,” she said.

After she composed herself, the judge asked her when “normal relations” with her husband had stopped and the woman said March 2013.

The judge noted proceedings had issued on March 2nd, 2017, and reminded the couple that Irish law required them to be separated for four years before they could apply for a divorce.

“We didn’t live as a married couple from 1st March,” the woman said.

She conceded they had lived together after that for a few months, until their family home was sold, but said there wasn’t anything between them.

Their daughter was born six months later.

The judge asked further questions about the timeline of the marriage and said she had to be satisfied they were separated for the required time. She asked the man to take the stand.

“Now, when did normal marital relationship cease?” the judge asked him.

“I’d say March 1st,” the man said. He went on to explain why he remembered the date and its proximity to St Valentine’s Day.

He said there had been difficulties with the relationship before that, too.

“So we are clear, the marriage was over on March 1st, 2013?” the judge said. The couple agreed and the judge granted the divorce.

“Look after yourself and your children,” she said as they left the court.

Future of family home

In a separate case, a couple who sat side by side in the courtroom, told the judge they had drawn up their divorce agreement, which included a complex clause related to the future of their family home.

The relationship had broken down in 2011, the man said, but they lived together until they were legally separated two years later.

They told the judge they had decided the family home would be sold once their two children were no longer in full-time education, but if one of them died before that, the proceeds of the house would be divided between all of their children, including those of subsequent relationships.

“Did you receive solicitor’s advice?” the judge asked.

The man shook his head.

“We did it with ‘easy divorce’,” he said.

The judge said she could note the agreement, but could not make an order about succession. She gave them a decree of divorce and advised them to go to a solicitor and make a will.

In another amicable case, the judge was told a man had moved back to his home country in Eastern Europe, where he had an income of €154 a week. His wife had agreed to maintenance of €50 a month from him for their teenage daughter, who was described as “a star pupil”.

Giving evidence, the father said his daughter had spent three months in the summer with him and would spend next summer with him too.

“Are you in touch via Skype?” the judge asked.

“Usually Whatsapp,” the man replied.

He said he had three other children at home, but he was doing his best to help his daughter.

“I love her so much,” he said.

The judge granted the divorce.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist