Man 'misled' court to get barring order against his child's mother

Mother 'traumatised' by summons awarded €14k costs by judge following father's failure to reveal all facts to the court
Man 'misled' court to get barring order against his child's mother

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A judge has claimed a man "misled" the court when he sought a barring order against the mother of his child, leading to her having the summons served on her by gardaí on the island where she worked.

Judge James McNulty, in a written judgement seen by the Irish Examiner, makes the unusual order of awarding costs to the mother after writing of the father's "failure to honour the oath which he took to tell the truth and the whole truth".

The case relates to the collapse of the relationship between mother and father, her attempts to move away from the island where they were living with the child, and to have the child come with her.

Judge McNulty said the matters had been the subject of a full hearing last July, with the court granting the mother, who is not originally from the area, liberty to remove the child from the home and to live with her on the mainland.

However, on the issue of costs, the judge notes that the parties had been before the court on 20 different dates, having been initiated on an ex parte basis by the father when he alleged he felt he was in danger and in fear for his own safety and that of the child if the mother remained in the family home.

According to the judgment, the father was asked whether there was anything else the court ought to know that could have a bearing on proceedings and he replied that there was not. 

The judge granted an interim barring order for four days, with a full barring order later granted. Gardaí were authorised to serve a summons for a barring order on the woman.

According to the judgment, the father did not disclose to the court all relevant and material facts at the ex parte application stage. 

The court believes that the father knowingly and wilfully omitted to make such full disclosure, and finds that as a direct consequence the court was misled by the father.

It lists what it refers to as the "salient facts", such as the mother contacting social services as far back as 2014 about relationship difficulties, reassurance from a GP that the mother presented no risk to the child, and a 2017 report from a public health nurse that the mother was in distress after an altercation with the father. 

Tusla had also reported there was no need for a care order or any supervision order and no services needed to be put in place.

The judge said at a previous and related court appearance he was satisfied that the mother had, "for many years before, been physicially and emotionally rejected, abandoned, and isolated within the relationship by the father".

He said while the father wasn't aware of "every detail" when he applied for the barring order, "there were very substantial, relevant and material facts which were known to him, but which he failed to disclose to the court".

The judge said the serving of the summons on the woman, with no prior notice or warning by the father, may have left her "traumatised" and "embarrassed" and that given her "extremely modest" financial means as opposed to the father's, the cost of the family law proceedings "must have been close to ruinous".

Judge McNulty wrote costs are not usually awarded in family law cases, but he said the court would depart from the general principle and award costs to the mother of €14,720.

It notes that appeals are likely to be heard in the circuit court.

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