D v C

CourtHigh Court
Judgment Date01 January 1984
Date01 January 1984

Capacity - Psychiatric illness -Whether petitioner entitled to decree of nullity on basis of respondent's inability to enter into and sustain normal marriage relationship due to psychiatric illness - Whether marriage void or voidable - Whether petitioner approbated marriage -Whether petitioner estopped by earlier matrimonial proceedings against respondent -Matrimonial Causes and Marriage Law (Ireland) Amendment Act, 1870 (c. 110).

The petitioner and the respondent were married in 1974. In 1978 the respondent was diagnosed as a manic depressive. Evidence was given that the respondent both before and after the marriage had undergone a number of serious mood changes each lasting for a considerable time. In early 1981 the respondent seriously assaulted the petitioner twice and the petitioner obtained a High Court order barring the respondent from the family home. The petitioner took the present proceeding seeking a decree of nullity of the marriage claiming (a) that by reason of his mental capacity and state of mind at the time of their marriage the respondent was unable to understand the nature, purpose and consequences of the marriage contract and (b) that at the time of the marriage the respondent was suffering from such disease of the mind that he was unable to maintain or sustain a normal relationship with her or with any children there might be of the marriage. The respondent contended, inter alia,(i) that since the Ecclesiastical Courts of the Church of Ireland did not grant decrees of nullity on the grounds advanced by the petitioner the High Court had no jurisdiction under the Matrimonial Causes and Marriage Law (Ireland) Amendment Act, 1870, now to do so, (ii) that even if the petitioner was correct in asserting her claim for a nullity decree on these grounds the alleged illness rendered the marriage merely voidable and since the petitioner by her action in 1981 had approbated the marriage she had disentitled herself to a decree. Held, 1, on the facts the respondent suffered from a psychiatric illness both before his marriage, at the time of his marriage and subsequent to his marriage. 2. Marriage was a lifelong union and the law recognised that there was more to marriage than physical consummation, and that a marriage required for its...

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