Saturday 20 January 2018

Smiles and objections as veil lifted on family law

Ordinary human dramas were played out -- for the first time in front of the media, says Maeve Sheehan

Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

THE estranged couple seemed comfortable sitting together at the back of the courtroom waiting for the official end of their marriage. When she approached the witness box to give evidence, he helped to jog her memory on the marriage they were bringing to a close. She had to think a bit when she was asked when they had they stopped living together. But he threw out some dates to help her along.

"It is a very important answer," said Judge Catherine Murphy. She pointed out that the law requires couples to be separated for four of the last five years before they can seek a divorce.

The couple had lived apart for more than a decade. They were legally separated, and there was no prospect of their reconciliation. They had no children. No properties in their joint names. She owned a house and had a pension but he confirmed that although he didn't have either, he had no wish to make a claim on her property.

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