Thursday 26 April 2018

Former teacher faces jail unless she leaves home so it can be sold in separation dispute

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The High Court has threatened to jail a former school teacher if she does not leave her family home so it can be sold as part of a judicial separation.

The court found evidence of a continual and wilful refusal by the woman to comply with court orders. She is refusing to leave the house until 2025, claiming it makes no economic sense to do so.

In a ruling, Ms Justice Bronagh O'Hanlon found the woman should be jailed until she purges her contempt. A stay was put on the order until June 15 so the woman can "consider seriously the position she is in". The case arose out of the separation of the couple, with two adult daughters. A Circuit Court judge directed in 2014 that the family home be sold.

But the wife, a qualified school teacher who stopped working 10 years ago, appealed this to the High Court. She was unsuccessful and in April last year, it directed that she leave the property within six weeks to facilitate its sale. It also ordered that the husband be allowed to use the property while it was on the market as he planned to have works done to it.

However, when the matter came back before the court in July 2016, the woman insisted she could not afford to leave. The court directed the husband to pay her €4,000 to cover the costs of moving, and the sum was to be recouped from the proceeds of the sale. The husband later told the court that a cheque was repeatedly sent to his wife, only to be returned.

He described how the situation had not helped with his employment and led to him suffering from chronic stress, lack of sleep and anxiety.

The man said he was still helping his two adult daughters, one of whom lives in a one-bed apartment and the other who spends some time living with him and some time with her mother. He said his wife was not willing to accept a job at present for which she was not trained, but he felt she could retrain.

Under cross-examination, he said he believed the threat of incarceration might bring her to her senses.

The wife told the court she had not complied with an order to vacate because she had broken her wrist. She insisted she had not been in a position to have surgery because of "trauma" she felt at the time.

The woman said she had not accepted the €4,000 as she described it as "contaminated" money. She also said it would not make economic sense to leave the home, as she would have to pay €1,400 in rent.

Irish Independent

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