Businessman forks over child maintenance arrears after seeing inside of cell

"He is not going to fool me. His company could discharge the entire €1,500 liability if he wanted to", Judge Gabbett said. Photo: Brian Gavin.

A BUSINESSMAN paid out €1,500 in child maintenance arrears to avoid being sent to prison, but only after a judge sent him to the courthouse cells for 30 minutes “to allow the man reflect”.

At the Family Law Court, the man paid out the €1,500 in maintenance arrears for his two children after Judge Alec Gabbett said he was satisfied the man has “significant funds” in his company account. The firm generates average annual revenues of over €100,000.

In January, Judge Gabbett rejected the man’s court application to have the €300 maintenance per week reduced and told the man he has a report “that tells me that you are living in a spacious five-bedroomed house and your ex-wife is living in a vermin infested house with ye’re two children”.

Prior to Judge Gabbett ordering the man into custody on April 10, the man was offering to pay €300 towards the arrears and was seeking a week to come up with a payment plan for the arrears.

The judge told solicitor for the man, Tara Godfrey, that “he is not going to fool me. His company could discharge the entire €1,500 liability if he wanted to”.

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Ms Godfrey said that her client “is not going to take the money from the company to pay the arrears”.

“That demonstrates to me exactly the nature of the man and he is going to do exactly as he sees it,” Judge Gabbett responded.

“I am not satisfied at all with €300 and I think it is time that he went into custody and saw the inside of a cell. This man simply thinks he can do what he wants to do.”

Judge Gabbett said all the “chaff” presented to him about the man’s personal finances “is designed to put me off the target and he is not going to put me off. I am on the target”.

“I want that money and I want it today. He is in custody now as far as I am concerned and he can go to the cells.”

Judge Gabbett said that the man lives in a house valued at €370,000 and has “a healthy business”.

He said that there is a significant amount of money on the man’s company and “he is paying himself the minimum amount from the company to avoid paying maintenance”.

Ms Godfrey said that the man had been paying the €300 in maintenance per week from November 10 to February 23 and had been paying €150 a week since.

After a 20-minute adjournment after Judge Gabbett sent the man to the cells, Ms Godfrey returned to say that her client was able to pay the €1,500.