The High Court has ordered the father of a 13-year-old boy to leave his son’s family home after he took control of the house and changed the locks last Tuesday while the youngster and his two sisters were attending their mother’s funeral.
At an emergency hearing on Friday evening, the judge Bronagh O’Hanlon lifted the in camera rule from the family-law case so that gardai could be asked to assist the boy and his two sisters in regaining control of the family home in Dublin.
The judge said that she was “inclined to believe that this is a dangerous situation” and that gardai should be present when the man, who was separated from the children’s mother, is served with the court order. The father was not represented in court.
O’Hanlon heard the ex parte application from a 21-year-old woman who is the eldest sister of the 13-year-old at the centre of the case.
Inge Clissmann, the woman’s senior counsel, told the judge it was a “rather sad case” as it involved the three children of a woman who had just died from cancer being locked out of their home while they attended her cremation.
The court was told that the three siblings were now homeless, and living in the homes of extended family.
Clissmann’s client and her other sister, 19, are not the children of the defendant but he had acted as their father before their mother separated from him.
The 21-year-old woman told the court that she and her brother and sister broke down in tears when they returned home last Tuesday to find their mother’s estranged husband had shut them out after changing the locks.
She claimed that the man’s sister was abusive to them.
The mother’s cousin testified that she has provided accommodation to the children since then. She said that the 13-year-old boy blamed himself for his father’s actions. “He wasn’t talking to [his father]. He thinks that’s why he did it.”
She said she was at the house last Tuesday when the children and other family were warned to stay away from the home by the man’s sister because it was “private property”. Although the gardai were called they said they could not intervene.
The dead mother’s solicitor gave evidence that her client had obtained a barring order against her husband in 2013 and began judicial separation proceedings in 2014. The solicitor said the barring order was lifted by the Circuit Court in 2014 when the man gave an undertaking to stay away from the family home.
The High Court heard both the 21-year-old and the dead woman’s cousin were appointed guardians of the 13-year-old boy under the dead mother’s will.
O’Hanlon ordered the boy’s father to vacate the family home and stay away from it. She also ordered that he should pay €100 weekly maintenance for the boy to his eldest sister, starting on Friday.
The judge also granted the deceased woman’s cousin liberty to enter the house and remain there to assist in the care and protection of the boy.