Tuesday 20 August 2019

Man turned up at wedding of ex-wife and new partner, denouncing its legality

The man turned up at the wedding ceremony and denounced its legality
The man turned up at the wedding ceremony and denounced its legality

Tim Healy

A man who disrupted the wedding ceremony of his ex-wife to her new partner has been prohibited from bringing any more legal actions over family law issues unless by permission of a court, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The man turned up at the wedding ceremony and denounced its legality and claimed he had appealed the divorce decree she had obtained even though he had not, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said on behalf of a three-judge court.

The court was dealing with an appeal by the man over proceedings related to the break-up of the marriage and custody of their three children.  

Mr Justice Charleton said the appeal arose in circumstances where it was the 83rd occasion when the court process had been accessed and where it had "become vexatious and insupportable".

Normally unhappy family breakdown had been compounded by difficult circumstances but had not been made easier "by a pervasive suspicion on the part of the husband" in relation to the new partner and his former wife, the judge said.

The family law proceedings were, at least, 20 times before the District Court and eight times before the Circuit Court.

The husband then brought a High Court case claiming he had concerns about the safety of the children and dangers that might by posed by the ex-wife's new partner, the judge said said.  The children are aged 15, 16 and 21, with the eldest now living abroad.

The High Court made an order in May 2010 based on undertakings including that the new partner would not live in the former family home and that relatives of the partner would be discouraged from driving the children around.   The man alleged cousins of the new partner engaged in criminal activities.

The court also directed the couple undergo marriage counselling and that divorce proceedings be issued.

Within a year of that case, the husband brought a new High Court application claiming she had failed to abide with the previous court order.  He sought full custody of the children and an order committing her to jail for breach of the order.

The wife said her partner was with her in the former family home at her request because her ex-husband "on numerous occasions has followed me around my locality at any time of day and night".

The High Court discharged the previous order with the judge in the case saying it (the order) had been designed to see whether by divorcing and accessing mediation, this might in some way lessen the animosity between them.  The judge also noted the divorce proceedings had yet to be issued.

The husband appealed the High Court decision discharging the order.

However, the husband allowed the appeal "to lie for four years" despite his concerns about the children, Mr Justice Charleton said in the Supreme Court.

The wife in the meantime initiated divorce proceedings and was granted a decree on June 2014.

At the wedding ceremony to her new partner earlier this year, the ex-husband turned up denouncing its legality.

He claimed he had only become aware of the divorce proceedings, which had been before the Circuit Court, as a result of his appeal to the Supreme Court and that he was appealing the divorce decree.

Mr Justice  Charleton said no evidence was produced to show there had been an appeal or stay on the divorce decree.

The ex-wife wanted to live an ordinary life free from the continual strain of court appearances, the judge said.

The ex-husband, on the other hand, had "so abused" the court process that his claimed purpose for doing so - for the benefit of his children - had not been so, he said.

His litigation activities emerged as a consequence of "an obsessive concentration on wrong that is more apparent than real".

The appeal to the Supreme Court has been vexatious, he said.  The time line of the appeal indicated "the utter futility" of seeking orders from the court in circumstances where events have moved on.

"The former wife is entitled to be protected from further nonsensical proceedings", he said.

While orders restraining future litigation are necessarily rare, this case had "crossed that boundary".

He therefore dismissed the appeal and directed the former husband be stayed from bringing further proceedings except by applying to the president of the relevant court.

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