C v C

JudgeMiss Justice Carroll
Judgment Date07 May 1981
Neutral Citation1981 WJSC-HC 1502
CourtHigh Court
Date07 May 1981

1981 WJSC-HC 1502


No. 693Sp./1980
C. v. C.





Judgment of Miss Justice Carroll delivered the 7th day of May 1981


The plaintiff, who is the wife, married the defendant on the 29th September 1973. She had completed her second year B.Sc. and was commencing her third and final year. At the time he was working in his family business earning £17 per week. When the couple got engaged he was earning money singing with a group at weekends but this job did not last. They entered marriage with their only income being his earnings from the family firm. These earnings might also be described as an allowance from the husband's father out of the family firm as the husband applied for money to his father based on their requirements from time to time.


At the end of the first year the husband, with the approval of the wife, gave up his full-time job with the family firm in order to study for a B.Comm. degree. He then worked only part-time in the family business.


The couple financed their living expenses partly by the money the husband received from the family business and partly by borrowings from different banks. It was the husband's idea that from the start they would borrow enough to keep them going during their early married days and pay it back when both were qualified and earning better money. The wife agreed with this idea at the beginning. They also discussed the kind of marriage they would have. It was to be a 50/50 partnership. They were to share everything, housework, child rearing etc. The wife was to pursue her own career. She continued with her studies after marriage but failed her degree examination in Autumn 1974.


Their first child was born on the 25th July 1975. The wife was unable to sit for her repeat examination in the Autumn but the husband passed his first Commerce examination that year.


According to the wife their marriage deteriorated from the birth of the first child. The husband did not help with the care of the baby or doing housework. The 50/50 arrangement broke down very quickly.


The wife ultimately sat for her degree examination the following year and obtained her degree in Autumn 1976 while the husband got his second Commerce examination in June 1976.


After qualifying the wife then studied for the H.Dip. in Education which she obtained in 1977. She earned a small sum (£150) teaching that year. The husband was getting £31 per week from the family business at this stage. Their second child was born on the 1st August 1977 and in the Autumn of that year the husband obtained his B.Comm. degree.


The wife started teaching part-time in a boys1 college during the year 1977/78 at a salary of £1,500 per annum. The husband, having decided to go on for Accountancy, started work with a firm of auditors in the Autumn of 1977 at a salary of £1,000 per annum. The wife was not fully in agreement with his decision to do Accountancy as she felt he should have finished with study and got a job. His explanation was that the B.Comm. degree was not enough on its own as a qualification. At this time the money he was getting from the family business was £35 per week.


The husband failed his First Accountancy examination twice (in July 1978 and December 1978) and it was not until the third attempt in December 1979 that he succeeded in getting it. His salary was them raised to £2,500 per annum and is currently about £3,000 per annum (or £68 per week net ). In the meantime the wife got full-time permanent employment in another boys" college in September 1978 at £4,200 per annum, and is still employed there. Her current salary is about £7,000 per annum (or £104 per week net). The couple bought a house in their joint names in December 1978 and this is now the family home.


One of the major causes of problems in this marriage has been due to money. The idea of supplementing income by borrowing money was agreed at the start. The wife said she had complete faith in her husband's financial ability initially. Then she realised that she had no control in how their finances were expended and that the husband was spending over and above what they could afford, so she tried to curb their spending but did not succeed. All their earnings went into a joint account but the wife did not have a cheque book. She did not object to the husband controlling the finances in the sense of writing cheques, but she wanted a say in deciding how the money was spent. Her misgivings occurred as early as the second year of their marriage and her present opinion of his financial ability is very low.


I am satisfied that in the course of the marriage the husband was extravagant in spending money on himself, on his own food, on taxis, on going to films and even in running the car.


When the couple bought the house for £34,000 in December 1978, the purchase was financed partly by a mortgage for £24,000 from the Irish Permanent Building Society, the balance being made up as to £4,000 by a gift from the wife's father to her and as to £6,000 by an advance from the husband's father to both of them jointly. The husband's father claims that he gave in all the sum of £11,000 and the additional £5,000 was spent partly in bridging finance (£1,000) partly in stamp duty and legal fees (£2,000) with a further sum of £2,000 unaccounted for. The husband said that they in fact only received £9,000 of the £11,000 but his father says he gave the full £11,000. The couple signed a document to the effect that they would refund £11,000 in the event of separation, divorce or dissolution of their marriage. There was no charge on the property for the sum of £11,000.


As this question may yet have to be decided between the parties to this action and the husband's father, I will leave the issues arising out of the document promising to refund £11,000 to be decided in the appropriate proceedings.


At the granting of the mortgage the husband's father agreed to give the couple the increased sum of £63 per week as a supplement to their earnings. On the figures produced to him by the husband this was adequate, with their earnings, to make the mortgage repayments and discharge their other financial obligations at that time. The mortgage repayments were £304 per month.


Only two mortgage repayments were made. After April 1979 the husband, who at all times had control of the money, failed to make any repayments whatsoever. The wife discovered this in November 1979 and this was a strong factor in her decision to persuade the husband to move out of the house. It should be noted that during this year the husband went away on his own with a group on two different holidays, one to Jersey and one to London, and spent at least £220. But then on the other hand, to balance that, the wife decided that she should also have money for a holiday and she spent £200 on a holiday in the U.S.A. with her brother at the end of 1979.


The bank borrowings which are now owed by the husband and the wife whether in their joint names or in their individual names are as follows:-


Joint Names:

Joint loan account (A.I.B. Stephen's Green) £5,000


In the Wife's Name:

Loan Account (A.I.B. Clonskeagh) £2,500 (This may be less as the wife has been paying money off this account).

Loan Account (Bank of Ireland, Ormond Quay) £1,394.


In the Husband's Name;

Current Account (A.I.B. Stephen's Green) £950

Visa Card (A.I.B. Stephen's Green) £750

Current Account (Bank of Ireland Ormond Quay £139

Student Loan Account (Bank of Ireland Ormond Quay) £379

Current Account (Bank of Ireland, Belfield) £450

H.P. Loan Account (Lombard & Ulster) £75


I am satisfied that the loan accounts in the wife's name and in the joint names and the H.P. loan account with Lombard & Ulster were incurred to finance the marriage. I do not have sufficient evidence to determine what part of the moneys owing on the other accounts in the husband's name were incurred as part of the marriage's finances.


Another cause of difficulties in this marriage has been violence by the husband to the wife. He had a habit of switching on T.V. very loudly when he came home. When the wife attempted to turn this off or down, he forceably removed her on several occasions from the room. He claims he did nothing else and intended no violence. She claims when she tried to resist he slapped her, banged her head on occasions against the wall and on one occasion gave her a black eye.


I am satisfied that there was violence as described by the wife on at least three or four of these occasions.


On another occasion, when she came in at 5 a.m. in the morning, he dragged her off the bed by her ankles and down two steps of the stairs to the half landing at which stage the wife agreed to leave the house. On that occasion I am satisfied the reason he did so was because she told him that it was none of his business where she was and was not because she came in at 5 a.m. (not that that would justify his actions). He did not object to her going out with her friends at any time and did not allege that anything improper had then or ever taken place. This incident took place in November 1979 when relations were strained.


On another occasion just before Christmas 1980 the husband had a disagreement with the wife as to whether she should accompany the children to his...

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