Man’s claim for stake in ex-wife’s home dismissed in High Court
Posted on 11th May 2022 at 21:24
‘No reason’ why woman should be landed with consequences of ex’s ‘poor decisions’
A High Court judge has dismissed a man’s appeal seeking a stake in his ex-wife’s home after he had spent many thousands of euros on un-prescribed drugs, alcohol, and Panamanian goods.
In a ruling, Mr Justice Max Barrett said the woman had “through grift and thrift” arrived at a position where she will likely be able to pay off her home loan, while the man appears to have dissipated almost all of his capital resources.
Dismissing the appeal, the judge said he could see “no reason” why the woman should now be landed with the consequences of her ex-husband’s “poor and improvident decisions”.
The ex-husband had appealed against a 2021 order of the Circuit Court, submitting he had not been granted proper provision in those divorce proceedings. The order essentially made some ancillary provision and continued an earlier order made in 2008 in judicial separation proceedings, said the judge.
In 2008, the woman was given custody and primary care of the couple’s children, while each was given one family property, division of certain monies and they had separate pension arrangements that were roughly equal, noted the judge.
The man’s lifestyle has resulted in the dissipation of his capital assets to the point that he even lost the residence ordered to him in 2008. Had he been more prudent, said the judge, he would now be the owner of an apartment in an attractive suburb. Instead, he lives in rental accommodation.
There was no order for payment of maintenance in the 2008 decision, and Mr Justice Barrett noted the man had “regrettably done little, financially or otherwise”, to assist in his children’s upbringing. This was evidenced by statements made by the couple’s now-adult eldest child, although the court heard the man provided some sporadic assistance in the child’s student years, including paying one year of college fees, said the judge.
Following the marriage break-down, the woman did “any number of jobs, no matter how humble”, to make ends meet, said Mr Justice Barrett. The judge was particularly struck by her evidence that she had at one time rented out rooms in her house and slept in the attic for extra income.
Meanwhile, the man suffered some nervous ill-health, which was testified to in court by his medical advisor. He was prescribed certain drugs, but he had also spent thousands of euros importing other un-prescribed drugs from abroad, said the judge.
The man had also spent many thousands on goods or services from or via Panama, but he was “completely vague” about what these were, the judge noted.
A tax-free lump sum of about €75,000 which he received following his retirement in 2008, seems to have been dissipated, the judge said. Although this came just a month after the separation proceedings, it does not appear that that judge was notified of the imminent retirement.
Any award to the man of a stake in the property ordered to the woman in 2008 would “almost certainly” require it to be sold so the profits could be divided, said the judge.
The man’s possible need for a further financial injection now to compensate for past improvidence made in the aftermath of the break-up is not a reason to depart from the provision made in the Circuit Court, he said.
Mr Justice Barrett affirmed the Circuit Court’s order.
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