R (C) v R (D)

JudgeMr. Justice Lynch
Judgment Date05 April 1984
Neutral Citation1985 WJSC-HC 2722
Docket NumberNo. 228 Sp C.6./ 1983
CourtHigh Court
Date05 April 1984

1985 WJSC-HC 2722


No. 228 Sp C.6./ 1983
R (C) v. R (D)




C V C 1976 IR 254, 111 ILTR 133

D (H) V D (J) UNREP FINLAY 31.07.81 1982/3/491

D (S) V D (B) UNREP MURPHY 19.03.82 1982/11/1894




G V D UNREP KEANE 28.04.81 1981/10/1642

K V K UNREP FINLAY 24.10.78 1978/9






MCGILL V S 1979 IR 283

O'K V O'K UNREP BARRON 16.11.82 1982/15/3124


W V W 1981 ILRM 202




Family home - Wife's application for declaration of her interest - House bought and furnished by husband - No contribution by wife to purchase expenses - Acquisition of house during period when husband suffering from alcoholism - Wife's support and care in helping husband attend to his business during that period - Negligible earnings of wife from care of poultry and cattle - Husband's alcoholism overcome - Desertion by wife 13 years later - Wife not entitled to estate in family home - Married Women's Status Act, 1957, s. 12 - (1983 No.228 Sp. - Lynch J. - 5/4/84).

|R. v. R.|


Judgment of Mr. Justice Lynch delivered the 5th day of April 1984


This is a claim brought under the Family Home Protection Act, 1976, the Married Women's Status Act 1957and the Partition Act 1876.


The plaintiff is the wife and was born in 1935. The defendant is the husband and was born in 1933.


The husband is a Veterinary Surgeon. In the year 1958 the husband was a Veterinary Science Student at U.C.D. and was friendly with another such student, one P.J.M. a brother of the wife. Through his friendship with P.J.M. the husband met the wife and they married on the 4th May, 1958 when the husband was still a student.


At the time of the marriage the wife was already some months pregnant with their eldest child and there were issue of the marriage six children namely:


William (Billy) born 28th September, 1958


Sara (Sally-Ann) born 6th May, 1960


Denis (Donnchadha) born 2nd June, 1962


Donal born 25th June, 1963


Joseph born 18th September, 1964, and


Keith born 17th September, 1965


On the marriage the wife's father gave a dowry of £500 to the wife. This was used to pay for the marriage and the honeymoon in a hotel in Aherlow, County Tipperary and to support the parties for a short time probably a few weeks only in a flat in Ranelagh, Dublin 6.


As the social climate at that time frowned upon pre-marital pregnancy the wife went to England where she remained until about six weeks before the birth of the eldest son when she returned to Ireland in or about the beginning of August, 1978. The wife would probably have spent five to six weeks in England at that time and when over there she supported herself whilst the husband continued his studies in Dublin and supported himself.


The husband obtained summer work with a Veterinary Surgeon a Mr. 3. in Scarriff, County Clare, in the Summer of 1958. His job included provision for his living in the house of the said Mr. B. and as he was still only a student and therefore not entitled to do T.B. testing work on cattle his wages were £10 per week only. On returning from England sometime at the beginning of August 1958 as aforesaid the wife went to live in lodgings in Killaloe, where she had board as well as lodgings and which she paid for herself. The exact length of time spent by the wife in these lodgings was not stated in evidence but it would appear to have been very short and perhaps no more than a couple of weeks because the said Mr. B. then invited the wife to come and live with the husband in his house. At that time the said Mr. B.'s wife was ill and was a way from home and hence the husband and wife resided together in Mr. B.'s house for some time the length of which was not determined in evidence but was probably relatively short. Unfortunately the husband became seriously drunk on one occasion during the course of this stay at the house of Mr. B. and while drunk he did serious damage to the bedroom occupied by himself and the wife. As a result of this the husband gave up the job and the husband and wife returned to live in Dublin. This return to residence in Dublin was probably prior to the birth of the eldest son on the 28th September, 1958.


The husband and wife then continued to live in Dublin until about the month of January, 1959. In the meantime the husband had qualified as a Veterinary Surgeon in the month of December, 1958. During this period of residence in Dublin the wife had to borrow money to provide for the support of herself, the husband and their child but such borrowing was repaid by the husband very shortly after he qualified as a Veterinary Surgeon.


When the husband qualified as aforesaid he went down to work in Roscommon as an assistant to a Veterinary Surgeon there one Mr. D. The wife and their child accompanied him and he rented a house in Church Street, Roscommon, where the husband, the wife and their child lived for about one year. The rent for this house and the living expenses of the family were paid for by the husband out of his earnings as an assistant to the said Mr. D.


The husband's father had been a Veterinary Surgeon in Kilmallock. In the year 1959 he was a very elderly man and his practice as a Veterinary Surgeon had dwindled a way until it was virtually non-existent. The husband had from the time of his marriage to the wife a serious drink problem which was gradually deteriorating and the wife was accordingly very unhappy during the period of their stay in Roscommon. In fact it is quite clear that the husband was by that time already an alcoholic and he would go on drinking bouts and then would abstain for a time in between such bouts but the periods of abstinence were becoming shorter and the drinking bouts longer. The husband's alcoholism was seriously affecting his work-life and his home-life and imposed a great strain on the wife. Accordingly the wife endeavoured to persuade the husband as also did her parents and the husband's own parents to return to work in Kilmallock and take over the remains of his father's veterinary practice.


In or about the month of December, 1959 the husband and the wife and their child went to live in Kilamallock where the husband took over the remains of the former veterinary practice of his father. The husband rented a flat in Kilmallock for the wife, their child and himself and the husband paid the rent and the living expenses of the family and also during this period employed for the first time domestic help namely a girl called B.A. During this time however the husband continued to suffer from alcoholism and accordingly an extra burden of work and strain was thrown on the wife both in relation to the home and in attempting to cover up for the husband in relation to his veterinary practice.


In the year 1960 a house which had only been constructed about two years previously in Kilmallock came on the market for sale. This house was situate on about four and half statute acres of land and was clearly very suitable as a residence for the husband and the wife and their family. Both the husband's parents and the wife's parents wanted the husband to buy this house as the family home. The husband did not have the money to pay cash for the house and he also had difficulty in arranging for a loan to enable him to buy the house but the wife's father came to his assistance and guaranteed him in the Bank for the amount of the purchase money of this house which was accordingly bought by the husband and in his sole name in the year 1960. The purchase price of the house was in or about the sum of £2,500. Neither a copy of the contract for sale nor of the conveyance was produced in evidence but it was accepted by both parties that the house was bought in the sole name of the husband for the price aforesaid. If the wife's father had not agreed to guarantee the husband's indebtedness to the Bank to enable him to purchase the house he would have had difficulty in arranging such facilities but it would not necessarily have been impossible for him to do so. Whether he would have succeeded in raising such finance without the assistance of the wife's father or not is something which was left uncertain on the evidence before me.


The debt due to the Bank in respect of the purchase price of the said house and lands was in fact paid off fully by the husband during the period from 1960 to 1966 and no liability in respect of such debt was in fact incurred by the wife or her father or any member of her family. The furnishing and redecoration of the house was likewise financed by the husband and nobody else.


The husband's practice as a Veterinary Surgeon in Kilmallock at this time was very limited and required to be built up since it had fallen a way almost to the point of disappearance with the advancing age of the husband's father. The efforts of the husband to build up this practice were hampered by his alcoholism in that when he would make a little progress towards building up the practice he would lose it again by going on drinking bouts and becoming unreliable. In order to earn money the husband a sought work at testing cattle for T.B. which was a very lucrative form of work and accordingly he commenced to do that work as assistant to a Veterinary Surgeon in Mountbellew, County Galway. During all this time the husband and the wife continued to have domestic help to assist in the home and with the children and accordingly the wife would on quite frequent occasions accompany the husband on trips to County Galway in order to ensure that he would not drink because on many...

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