Husband denied domestic violence order

Man claimed wife’s behaviour was interfering with his confidence, self-esteem and health

by Fiona Gartland

The Irish Times, Saturday 17th January 2015


A man who said his wife’s behaviour was interfering with his confidence, self-esteem and health has been refused a domestic violence order at the Dublin Circuit Family Court.


The couple were in the process of separating, but still lived in the same house with their two children, Judge Francis Comerford was told.


The husband had initially succeeded in obtaining a short protection order against his wife at the District Court on an ex-parte basis, when he alone was present in court. However when the case came to a full hearing, with husband and wife present, the judge rejected the application for a longer-term safety order.


The husband, who represented himself, then appealed to the Circuit Court. He said a previous judge had suggested their house was big enough for them both to live in “even if it meant the silent treatment”.


He said he was “genuinely living in fear” of the next thing his wife would do and it was interfering with his self-esteem, confidence, health and ability to work.


“It appears she doesn’t sleep at night thinking of ways to get me evicted from the house,” he said.


He claimed his wife belittled him in front of the neighbours, removed his slippers and the light bulbs from his room, let the air out of his tyres, placed some of his items in a wheelie bin and followed him around the house banging doors after him.


He was woken one night by shouting and gardaí were at the door to ask him about his dog licence, he said.


The solicitor for the wife, said his client denied the allegations. He said the marriage was “at an end” and “disharmony has raised its ugly head”.


His client was on medication and getting counselling, and was “on tippy toes” going around the house. She was worried about their children, including one who was facing State exams. She called gardaí about the dog “as a last resort” because it was brought into the house without consultation.


Judge Comerford suggested it was not an appropriate matter for gardaí. “How does one deal with a scenario when one can’t get a response?” the solicitor asked.


Judge Comerford said he could not make a safety order; the husband’s complaints did not meet the legal test. “Maybe no house is big enough for both of you,” he said.


Previous family law cases

In a separate case, a barrister sought on an ex-parte basis the permission of the court to serve documents on her client’s former husband at short notice.

Her client wanted him to pay the costs awarded against him for previous family law cases before he embarked on another hearing for access to their child. “He threatened to financially ruin her through the method of litigation,” she said.


She told the judge the man had more than “60 outings” in the courts before a High Court judge ruled he could not make any more applications without court permission.


After three attempts, a judge allowed him to proceed with an application for access, though she noted he had “abused court process” and “escalated costs”, counsel said.


Judge Comerford gave her permission to serve via email, ahead of a hearing of the access case next week. He said he would allow costs to be dealt with as a preliminary issue.


In another case, a father wanted the court to ensure his son could reattend a youth organisation of which his wife did not approve.


He said he had paid for a year’s membership, but his son had only been allowed to attend for a month. “She told me on the phone he could be murdered while there,” the father said.


He asked that the court declare the youth organisation was “a safe and responsible body for children”.


A solicitor for the mother said her client understood their divorce case was down for hearing later this month and was not present in court.


She did have some concerns about the youth organisation, but it was her husband’s “whole attitude in the round” that was of real concern.


Judge Comerford said that unless the mother was consenting, he would not deal with the matter. He adjourned it to the hearing date.