Saturday 23 March 2019

Woman loses bid to get support from ex-fiancé after two lengthy splits

Stock photo
Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A woman has failed in a High Court bid to get financial support from her ex-fiancé after a judge found they had split up for two lengthy periods during their relationship.

The case was taken under legislation introduced in 2010, which allows unmarried and same-sex couples who separate or divorce to seek redress.

Under the law, a party can seek a maintenance order, property adjustment order, pension order or attachment of earnings order if a court is satisfied they were financially dependent on their former partner. But to qualify, the couple must have lived together in an intimate and committed relationship for a period of at least five years prior to the end of the relationship.

In an action heard by Mr Justice Donald Binchy, the woman claimed she and her ex-fiancé had been together between 2007 and 2016.

She said that while there were times during which she did not stay at his house because they needed space, their relationship did not end and during these periods she continued to wear her engagement ring at all times.

The woman said they continued to have contact and he supported her financially during such periods.

However, she failed to bring forward any witnesses in support of her case.

Her former partner opposed the application and said there were periods when the couple split up, without intending to become reconciled, in the final five years of the relationship.

In a ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Binchy said he was satisfied there were two periods, one of approximately six months and another of four months, where their relationship had ended.

This was supported by evidence put before the court, including an account of a conversation between the woman and her former fiancé's sister.

The testimony of a number of other witnesses also supported the man's account of events. There was also evidence he started a relationship with another woman during one of the break-ups.

The judge said the Court of Appeal had previously decided it was not necessary for the former couple to have spent every day under the same roof to qualify for redress under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act.

That court did find, however, that the relationship had to be intact during any periods apart, and these could not be due to the relationship breaking down.

Mr Justice Binchy said that while there may well be reasons why the woman was unable to put forward witnesses to support her case, the fact was she had not called anybody.

"The claim must fail because the applicant has failed to meet the requirements of the legislation," he said.

The issue of costs is expected to be dealt with later.

Irish Independent

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