Monday 25 September 2017

Mother takes legal action to prevent sale of south Dublin home

A MOTHER has gone to the High Court to try to prevent the sale of her south Dublin home to satisfy a settlement of family law proceedings.

The woman alleges she agreed to an order facilitating sale of the house under threat of being jailed after being unable to raise some €310,000 to comply with the settlement.

 

Her future liberty was also made contingent on her ex partner's agreement to any proposals she might advance to honour the settlement, she claims.

 

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, has adjourned to Monday the woman's application for leave for judicial review of orders by Circuit Court Judge Sarah Berkeley in the matter.

 

Today, the judge was told the woman's former partner was opposing her application but lawyers for both sides had agreed it could be adjourned to Monday with no steps to sell the family home to be taken in the interim.

 

In an affidavit, the woman, aged in her fifties,  said she agreed under a settlement of family law proceedings to pay her former partner some €310,000 in exchange for his interest in the family home to her.

 

She intended to use a redeemed pension plan to pay that sum but later learned she could not do so unless she retired and she would also have to draw down some €640,000 to get the €310,000 sum.

 

She could not afford to retire and would not have entered into the settlement had she realised the full implications of how she intended to fund it, she said. She was still trying to raise alternative finance from either her employer or bank but had so far been unsuccessful.

 

Her relationship with her former partner had been problematic for some years and she had feared delay in implementing the settlement might result in his becoming violent, she said.

 

While she arranged to have his belongings put in storage and locks changed around the time it was agreed he would leave the home, she was not then aware she might have difficulty paying the €310,000 sum.

 

After she did not pay by the agreed date last summer, her former partner applied to the Circuit Court and the proceedings were later re-entered.

 

She had set out her difficulties implementing the settlement and said she understood re-entering the proceedings would be the best way to address those problems.

 

Her former partner then issued an alternative "confrontational" motion to have her explain why she should not be jailed due to the settlement not being implemented, she said. He also gave a "flawed and incomplete" picture which failed to address her difficulties raising the monies.

 

When his motion came before Judge Berkeley, the woman said she was legally represented, but Judge Berkeley took "significant umbrage" she was not physically present in court.

 

She had been advised the matters to be addressed were purely legal and believed there was no need to attend, she said.

 

Judge Berkley granted an order for her arrest and she was brought before the judge the following day who indicated, unless she made proposals satisfactory to the court and her former partner within 24 hours, she would be jailed for contempt, the woman said.

 

Her lawyer, under protest but with her consent, then agreed to a "flawed" and "disproportionate" order for sale of the family home, the woman said.  That order was perfected late last month and the matter was urgent.

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