O.K v O.K, [2005] IEHC 384 (2005)

Docket Number:2000 11M
Judge:O'Higgins J. / O''Higgins J.
 
FREE EXCERPT

THE HIGH COURT

(Matrimonial)[2000 No: 11M]BETWEEN O'KAPPLICANT AND

O'KRESPONDENT

Judgment of Mr. Justice O'Higgins delivered on the 29th day of July 2005.

This case comes before the court by way of a nullity petition which reads as follows:

"1. Your Petitioner went through a ceremony of marriage to the Respondent,……..otherwise……. at the Church of . . . in the County of the City of Dublin on the 6th day of September, 1994.

  1. Your Petitioner and the said [……..], are and were at the date of the said purported ceremony of marriage, domiciled in Ireland.

  2. Following the said ceremony of marriage, your Petitioner lived and co-habited with the Respondent....

  3. There are no children of the, marriage between the Petitioner and the Respondent herein.

  4. Your Petitioner and the Respondent have lived separate and apart from one another since in or about the month of June, 1999.

  5. Your Petitioner …. resides at ….Your Respondent herein …. resides at ….

  6. Your Petitioner did not give nor was he capable of giving a full, free or informed consent to the said ceremony of marriage.

  7. As of the date of the said ceremony of marriage, your Petitioner by reason of psychiatric illness, personality disorder and/or emotional immaturity was incapable of entering into and sustaining a normal marital relationship with the Respondent.

  8. As of the date of the said ceremony of marriage, your Respondent reason of emotional immaturity and her state of mind, was incapable of undertaking the nature, duties and responsibilities of a normal marital relationship with your Petitioner.

  9. The Respondent herein did not give a full, free and informed consent to the said ceremony of marriage.

  10. As of the date of the said ceremony of marriage, the Respondent, by reason of emotional immaturity and her state of mind was incapable of entering into and sustaining a normal marital relationship with the Petitioner herein.

  11. The Respondent herein has by her conduct repudiated the marriage between the Petitioner and the Respondent herein." By order of the Master of the High Court dated the 19th December 2001, Dr. Michelle Cahill a consultant psychiatrist was appointed as the medical examiner in this case. By further order of the Master dated the 6th October, 2004 the issues to be tried were set out as follows:

    "1. Whether the Petitioner gave or was capable of giving a full free or informed consent to the ceremony of marriage.2. Whether at the date of the marriage the Petitioner by reason of psychiatric illness personality disorder and/or emotional immaturity was incapable of entering into and sustaining a normal marital relationship with the Respondent.

  12. Whether at the date of the marriage the Respondent by reason of emotional immaturity and her state of mind was incapable of undertaking the nature (sic) duties and responsibilities of a normal marital relationship with the Petitioner. 4. Whether the Respondent gave a full free and informed consent to the ceremony of marriage.

  13. Whether at the date of the marriage the Respondent by reason of emotional immaturity and state of mind was incapable of entering into and sustaining a normal marital relationship with the Petitioner.

  14. Whether the Respondent has repudiated the marriage and such other issue or issues as to the trial judge shall seem fit."

    In her answer to the petition the respondent denies the incapacity alleged by the petitioner both in respect of his capacity to enter into the marriage and in respect of her own. She further contends that the petitioner has by his conduct approbated the marriage and ratified the marriage and contends that he has acted with undue delay and she claims the proceedings amount to abuse of process of the court.

    The case was heard over a period of six days and the court heard evidence from no less than five medical doctors (four of whom were consultant psychiatrists) as well as evidence from four other witnesses, apart from the petitioner himself.

    On the fourth day of the hearing counsel for the respondent indicated that her client no longer wished to context the nullity proceedings on foot of matters that had transpired since the hearing commenced. Quite properly the Court was told that financial arrangements had been put in place between the parties. However these arrangements were in no way dependent on the outcome of the proceedings. I am quite satisfied that no question of collusion arises in these proceedings.

    The psychiatric evidence was directed principally to the two main issues in the case. Firstly the ability of the petitioner to exercise an informed judgment and to consent to enter into the marriage contract. At issue was the question as to whether the apparent consent to marriage was vitiated by reason of the mental condition and/or use of medication by the applicant. The second issue was whether the petitioner by reason of his mental condition was capable of sustaining a martial relationship.

    The consent issue

    In regard to the consent issue the evidence was as follows.

    Dr. Corkery a consultant psychiatrist who treated the petitioner for bipolar disorder between 1991 and 1993 was of the view that ideally there should be "between six months and a year of the mood being absolutely stable and everything happening as regards compliance with advice, education and medication" before a person with bipolar illness should enter a marriage contract. She also said that she would advise persons who had an episode of illness "not to make serious decisions in life for a considerable time until they are very well settled".

    Dr. Cahill was the examiner appointed by the Master of the High Court to report on these issues to the court. It was her considered opinion having read Dr. Shelley's psychiatric notes and having regard to the petitioner's own history that his decision to marry i.e. his consent to marry on the date of the marriage was not flawed. She was of the view that at that time his mood was stable and remained stable for a number of months after the marriage until he got depressed. However, Dr. Cahill revised her opinion in the light of further reports from Dr. Shelley and Dr. Lucey and the light of a fuller history of the applicant and told the court that by reason of his medication and history of illness she considered that the petitioner was incapable of forming a proper judgment to get married.

    The applicant was under the care of Dr. Rory Shelley, a consultant psychiatrist from 1993 to 1996. Dr. Shelley saw him on the 29th August 1994 just over a week prior to his wedding and described his mood as normal. When he saw him again two days after the wedding Dr. Shelley noted that the petitioner had got on well at the wedding. It was his view that the petitioner had the capacity to enter into a marriage on the date of the wedding and that there was nothing in his mental state at the time of his wedding that would have impaired his capacity. Dr. Shelley has since concluded that the petitioner suffers from a neurological deficit associated with his illness. However, even if that deficit were present at the time of his marriage, Dr. Shelley did not think that it was of such a severity that it would have interfered with his ability to enter into the marriage at the date of the wedding.

    Dr. Lucey is a consultant psychiatrist who is currently treating the petitioner. He considered that the medication being taken at the time of his marriage would not have adversely affected the petitioner's judgment. He thought that the petitioner was quite clearly capable of consenting to marriage, but that he did not have the capacity to enter into a marriage because marriage involves commitment.

    The petitioner himself said in evidence that "certainly I knew what I was doing when I got married".

    The petitioner was under medical treatment for bipolar disorder at the time of his wedding. He was on appropriate medication. I consider that in regard to his capacity to enter the marriage much reliance must be placed on the evidence of the psychiatrist who was treating him at the time and who saw him shortly before and shortly after the wedding ceremony. I must also have regard to the evidence of the applicant himself. Moreover there has been evidence from the applicant's brother between that at his request the applicant deferred the wedding for a period of about a year. Whatever the advisability of the applicant waiting for a longer period of stability in his condition, I have little doubt that he was capable of exercising the judgment to get married.

    In those circumstances the petition cannot succeed on the first issue.

    The capability of the petitioner to enter into and Sustain a normal marital relationship with the respondent.

    The evidence of the petitioner

    The petitioner was born in 1946 and commenced work in 1969. He had a

    very rapid rise in his career and within a period of 10 to 12 years he had no less than 6 offices throughout the country. He had acquired a number of expensive houses as well. The petitioner told the court of some of his relationships with women. He was engaged at least three times. He was engaged several times to one particular woman and he told the court that rings were flying "hither and thither". Despite his success however the petitioner told the court that he felt lonely and unfulfilled. He felt that things began to go wrong in the mid 1980's. In 1991 he was first hospitalised for his bipolar disorder, but prior to that he had been under the care of his very concerned general practitioner. His first admission to hospital for bipolar disorder was an involuntary admission which occurred after a time when his general practitioner had attempted to treat him at home. The court was furnished with a synopsises of his attendance at work between the years 1998 and 2003. It is quite clear from that that because of his illness the petitioner was hugely impaired in carrying on his work during that period of time. Moreover the evidence of Mr. O'C. partner in one of his...

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL