Saturday 16 December 2017

Former wife gets €2m in Supreme Court deal 'sealed with a kiss'

Tim Healy

A SETTLEMENT of long-running family law proceedings ended with a kiss between a now divorced husband and wife, involving a €2m payment to the woman.

The payment is from the sale proceeds of the "magnificent" family home, was sealed today at the Supreme Court with a kiss.

The man and woman, who married in the late 1960s and had a number of children before separating in the mid 1980s and later divorcing, smiled at each other and the man kissed the woman on the cheek after the court ruled the settlement reached between them on consent.

Both are aged in their sixties and, by court order, nothing may be published that might identify them.

Inge Clissmann SC, for the man, said there was a signed consent to the settlement under which the woman is to get €2m from the sale proceeds of the family home, plus her legal costs.

The man is to get what counsel described as "a very small portion" of the total sale sum from his 50 per cent share of the family home and any additional proceeds from the sale will go to the couple's adult children.

Both sides were satisfied the settlement made proper provision for the wife, Ms Clissmann said.

Marian Moylan BL, for the woman, said her client was very anxious the matter be finalised and was satisfied with the terms of settlement.

Chief Justice Susan Denham, sitting with Mr Justice John MacMenamin and Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, congratulated the parties on arriving at an agreement and said that was more satisfactory than the court ruling on the matter.

The court was satisfied the agreement made proper provision and the relevant law has been complied with, she added.

The settlement arose after the man had appealed against a 2007 High Court order concerning proper provision for his first wife.

In that court, Mr Justice George Birmingham, who stressed the task for him was not so much about division of assets as making proper provision, had directed the family home here be sold with the proceeds to be divided equally between the man and woman.

The judge, who estimated the value of the available assets at some €6.6m and noted the woman calculated her needs at €6,000 monthly, also directed the woman should get a lump sum payment of €1.25m after which the man's maintenance obligations would cease.

The man and woman married in the 1960s and she continues to live here.

Described by Mr Justice Birmingham as "careful, reliable and conscientious" and an "admirable mother", she had remained in the family home in what the judge described as a "magnificent" property in a "highly desirable" location.

Her half share of that property was her most significant asset along with her gross annual salary of some €47,000 at the time of the High Court proceedings.

With the possibility of retirement approaching, she estimated she needed €6,000 monthly.

The man lives in central Europe with his second wife and children and they divide their time between two "splendid" residential properties and enjoy a "very comfortable lifestyle", the High Court noted.

His annual income in 2007 was projected at some €324,000.

Mr Justice Birmingham had noted the man had gone well beyond his maintenance obligations for the children set out in a 1988 Circuit Court order and his behaviour in that regard was "highly to be commended".

The woman had never sought to review the 1988 Circuit Court maintenance order and that had too to be put in the balance when the court was considering the man's maintenance overpayments of some €152,000 between 1988 and 2005, the judge added.

She had also provided administrative and secretarial support for her husband without any formal remuneration from the outset of their marriage, he noted.

The judge also congratulated both sides' lawyers over how they dealt with the case and their efforts to "minimise differences".

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