Monday 23 July 2018

'We are neither married nor divorced in Irish Law' - Loved-up Irish couple left in legal limbo

Laura and Paul
Laura and Paul

Sean Nolan

An Irish couple, who got married in Dublin in 1990 and divorced in the UK in 1999 are now unable to get remarried in Ireland as their divorce is not fully recognised in Ireland.

Laura, originally from Dublin, and Paul, originally from Cavan, told their story on Liveline on RTÉ Radio 1 today.

The couple met in Ireland in 1986 and they then moved to London two years later.

After marrying in Dublin in 1990, they moved back to London, and had a son in 1992.

However, after Paul's drinking became problematic, Laura applied for a divorce and in January 1999 she was granted a divorce in the High Court of London.

Laura moved back to Dublin in 2000 with their son while Paul stayed in London.

The pair remained close and Paul would stay with her when he returned to Ireland to visit. In 2004 Paul returned to work in Dublin and their relationship fully rekindled when Paul stopped drinking.

Due to the economic downturn, Paul returned to the UK to work, where he remains, but three years ago they decided to get married again.

An initial application to the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths in Roscommon to organise their marriage along with their UK Decree Absolute led to a request from them to prove that they were domicile in the UK rather than resident.

According to Laura, despite producing a large file of information to verify their lives in the UK, the divorce was not recognised because of the domicile rule.

She said they told her that because at the time of the divorce Laura intended to return to Ireland they deemed that she was resident in the UK but domicile in Ireland and for a foreign divorce to be recognised in Ireland, a person must be domicile in the country the divorce was issued.

A legal action to have the divorce recognised here began in 2016 and a judge did accept their UK divorce.

However, when Laura applied again to Roscommon to get married she says she was told that their divorce was still not recognised because the General Registrar was not joined to the proceedings in 2016.

“In fairness they had stated this in their correspondence but I didn't honestly notice this and in no way did I intentionally not inform them," Laura said.

"For this reason they refused this. I was then told that they were sending this to the State Solicitors Office.”

The letter to the State Solicitor was sent in November 2016 and in July 2017 Laura says she was told that permission to marry was again refused, along with a suggestion she could get an Irish divorce before then applying to get married.

“We are neither married nor divorced in Irish Law - therefore neither of us would get a widow's pension, our work pensions would not pay out the lump sum should we die in service as we are not spouses, our life policies/home would not go automatically to each other, we could make wills but we would both be liable to inheritance taxes.”

Not the pair face legal bills to again go to court to get their marital status recognised so they can, once again, become husband and wife.

"We'll have to go down the road of senior and junior counsels but I hope we don't have to. Now I feel it is out of my control."

Liveline contacted the The Department of Social Protection who said it is the policy of the General Registrar not to comment on individual cases.

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