High Court reporters
A woman must pay her former husband €900,000 for his share of the family home, a lump sum of €280,000, and a portion of her pension worth over €470,000 as part of their divorce settlement, a High Court judge has ruled.
Mr Justice John Jordan, who granted the couple a decree of divorce, also rejected the woman's claims that her former husband had assaulted, abused and threatened her.
The judge said the pair, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had for some years enjoyed a happy marriage, but unhappy differences arose some years ago after the woman became ill.
While she made a good recovery, the upheaval and stress of her illness caused a fracture in their relationship.
She had felt that during that time her husband did not travel with her on her journey, the judge said.
The man had said that during that time his wife had made a decision to change her life and things "went slowly downhill" from there.
The judge said there were significant assets involved in the case and the court was being asked how the matrimonial assets of €6.5-7 million should be dealt with.
The judge said both parties were successful in their jobs, were on good salaries, and had invested their money well. The man had a good income, but it was only "a fraction" of what his former wife earned, the court heard.
He said the difference in earnings was described by the man as "income-wise, we were chalk and cheese".
The judge said that while the relationship had ended some years ago, the parties had remained living in the family home.
They had slept in separate rooms, used different sitting rooms, and had generally tried to avoid each other.
The man did not want to leave the property, while the woman wanted him to move out.
The judge said the man did not want to leave his children behind, nor did he want to become "a weekend Dad".
The judge noted the couple are the parents of two children, who attend fee paying schools, and are most loved and very attached to what he described as "good parents".
The court was satisfied to make an order for joint custody with a shared parenting regime to be put in place.
The husband was "very hands on at home" and did a lot of the cooking and domestic chores.
He noted the woman had offered to pay the man 50 per cent of the net value of the family home, which she would continue to pay the mortgage on, and she offered to pay him 15 per cent of her pension.
The judge noted serious allegations of misconduct had been made by the woman against the man, which the court must examine. He said that shabby and unedifying behaviour by one spouse to another "is wrong".
"A spouse, and anyone involved in an intimate relationship is entitled to be treated with the complete respect by the other partner."
In the case, the judge said allegations by the woman of assault, abuse and threats had not been made out, and the court was not satisfied to make orders in the proceedings.
No credible or convincing evidence was produced to prove the husband is violent, or a person whom the woman feared.
There was no independent evidence that supported the woman's allegations, and the evidence produced by her was not persuasive, the judge said.
He added the man had accepted losing his temper on occasions. While the man had let himself down when that happened, the judge said he was satisfied he was not violent.
In the circumstances, the court was not prepared to make any orders that would trigger a sanction under Section 20 (2) of the 1995 Family Law Act.
In his ruling, the judge said the court must afford equal recognition to the value of the contribution made by the couple during the marriage, this does not mandate an exercise of identifying and ensuring an equal division of the matrimonial assets.
Having assessed all the financial information, he ruled the woman should retain the family home and buy out the man's share. which he valued as being €900,000, and continue to pay the mortgage.
The judge also made a pension adjustment order in favour of the man. Her pension was worth €1.6 million, while his was worth €659,000.
The judge said their pensions would be equalised by giving him 29.4 per cent share or €470,000 of her total pension funds.
The judge said in order to buy out the man's interest in the family home, the woman will have to arrange finance or use her savings and investments.
Having considered the evidence, the judge said it is proper to make a lump sum in favour of the now former husband, having regard to the total assets in the woman's hands.
The judge directed that she pay her former spouse a lump sum of €280,000 before the end of January 2024.
The judge also expressed a view that both sides should pay their own substantial legal costs.