Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 24 April, 2008
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Code.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
Deputy Bernard J. Durkanasked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, further to Parliamentary Question No. 142 of 6 March 2008, if he will explain his definition of a geographic marriage separation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15883/08]
Deputy Martin Cullen Deputy Martin Cullen
Deputy Martin Cullen:Persons of a marriage/union who reside at different addresses and who fail to provide evidence that the marriage/union has been dissolved, or irretrievably broken down, are considered to be geographically separated. In order to qualify for one-parent family payment a separated person must demonstrate that the marriage tie between the applicant and his/her spouse is broken. The fact that a couple reside apart does not in itself satisfy this condition.
 According to a High Court judgement in 1998 dealing with the issue of couples living apart it was set out that marriage is not primarily concerned with where the spouses live or whether they live under the same roof, and indeed there can be a number of circumstances in which the parties are not living under the same roof as, for example, where one party is in hospital or an institution of some kind, or is obliged to spend a great deal of time away from home in the course of his or her employment. Such ‘separations’ do not necessarily constitute the persons are living apart from each other.
There must be something more than mere physical separation and the mental or intellectual attitude of the parties is also of considerable relevance. Both of these elements must be considered in conjunction with each other. Accordingly parties who are physically or geographically separated may in fact maintain a full matrimonial relationship. A separated applicant for one-parent family payment must demonstrate that the marriage tie between him/her and his/her spouse has ended.
Dáil Éireann 653 Written Answers. Social Welfare Code.