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Orders upheld against father and putative husband of minor following annulment of marriage

By: Mark Tottenham BL

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Supreme Court dismisses appeals from High Court, and: (a) affirms order of committal to prison for contempt of court, on the grounds that there was sufficient evidence that the father of a 16-year-old girl who had undergone a marriage ceremony with a 29-year-old man had assisted in the removal of his daughter from the State to Egypt in breach of a court order; and (b) affirms refusal to award costs of proceedings to the 29-year-old putative husband of the girl against the Child and Family Agency, notwithstanding that there had been no finding of a 'forced marriage', on the grounds that he had opposed a declaration of nullity until such time as the psychiatric evidence demonstrated that the girl had been unable by reason of capacity to give full and free consent to the marriage.

Reliefs sought in proceedings: Committal for contempt of court; costs of proceedings
Application before the court: Appeals to Supreme Court of finding of contempt and refusal to award costs against Child and Family Agency (CFA)
Outcome: Appeals dismissed.
Grounds: Sufficient evidence that father had assisted in removal of his daughter from the State in breach of court order; putative husband had opposed a declaration of nullity at all times until psychiatric evidence was adduced to show that girl could not have given informed consent.

McKechnie J (nem diss): Contempt of court - nullity proceedings - care and custody of child - issues of proceedings by Health Service Executive (later the CFA) - ceremony of marriage with between 29-year-old man and 16-year-old girl - evidence of coercion - whether marriage valid at law - marriage declared null and void ab initial by High Court - removal of girl from State to Egypt - girl's father committed to prison for contempt after disobeying order of the court - travel to Egypt - whether committal for contempt had been in error - whether 'husband' should have been awarded his costs of the proceedings - mootness - expert evidence.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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