*Judge Alec Gabbett described the case as “very 1950s”.
AN AGREEMENT not to interfere with the immersion switch in the family home is one of a number of undertakings between a warring couple, a court has heard.
After being told of the undertaking involving the house immersion switch at the Family Law Court, Judge Alec Gabbett remarked “it is very 1950s isn’t it?”.
In the case, the couple each have temporary Protection Orders against each other and were each applying for a Safety Order. The couple’s relationship has ended but neither has sufficient money to move out of the family home.
Judge Gabbett said that the couple’s situation “is a disaster”. He made his comment after hearing that one of the undertakings is that the husband is not to access his wife’s ensuite bathroom.
Solicitor for the wife, Ronan Connolly said there has been no breach of undertakings by his client “but there has been flagrant breach of one and two of the undertakings” by the husband.
Solicitor for the husband, Lorraine O’Callaghan Daly said this was denied. Both Mr Connolly and Ms O’Callaghan Daly agreed that the undertaking that the immersion switch not be interfered with “is doing okay”.
The couple have also undertaken to only text each other for access and welfare of children, phones to remain unblocked and security cameras to be deactivated.
Judge Gabbett asked the solicitors, “Why are they still living together?”
Mr Connolly said that this was a valid question but that his client has nowhere to go.
Mr Connolly said that there was one incident where his client “was in genuine fear but that is a matter for evidence”.
Judge Gabbett said that he was thinking of the couple’s “poor children”.
Judge Gabbett said, “This is not a normal household”.
On the refusal of either party to leave the family home, Judge Gabbett said, “Who is going to blink first? This is brinkmanship at its best”.
Judge Gabbett said, ”My primary concern is the children. It is a question of who is going to blink first. It is a case of ’it is my house and I am not leaving’ – that is on both of ye”.
He added, “That is going to cause children no end of difficulty and it is actually a form of emotional abuse”.
“I am sorry to be that blunt but that is what it is – the children are suffering because of this type of behaviour. That is not a criticism of ye because ye don’t realise the impact of your actions”.
Judge Gabbett directed that the two commence a parenting while separated course so that they can become educated as to the consequences of their actions.
Mr Connolly confirmed to Judge Gabbett that divorce proceedings have been lodged for issue and were drafted by counsel relatively recently.
Judge Gabbett commented “that is fantastic” and remarked “he sooner this divorce is over the better”.
Ms O’Callaghan Daly said that an informal access arrangement for the children has been working well and said that her client was proposing on access that he “would leave the family home on the house days children are with mother and come back at 9pm at night and say ‘good-night’ to the children and go to his own room at that point”.
The husband told Judge Gabbett that the family home is worth between €250,000 to €270,000.
Judge Gabbett said, “Ye are fighting over €250,000 and after €30,000 to €40,000 are paid by each in the circuit court, you will be left with €60,000 each to buy a new house and get a mortgage – it is a very sensible approach isn’t it?”
Judge Gabbett adjourned the Safety Order applications until December.