Judge rejects claim that informal atheist marriage had any legal effect

A judge has described a Co Clare woman’s atheist marriage as “mumbo jumbo” and “for the fairies” stating that she didn’t get married at all four years ago because it did not fulfill the legal requirements.

He was responding to a woman accused of giving a Garda a false name. The woman said she used her new husband’s surname after they married at a humanist ceremony four years ago.

However, Judge Durcan said: “The law provides procedures for entering into marriage which is something that imposes civil responsibility and imposes civil obligations. That is what marriage is and your client wasn’t married four years ago.” He added: “Let us go by legal principles here – her maiden name is Haskett, her first husband was McLeish – her only husband.”

The solicitor representing the woman said her client had instructed her that she was married in an atheist or ‘humanist’ ceremony four years ago. Judge Durcan, however, told the solicitor that the defendant “instructs you to come in here with this cock and bull story about being married, that is daft and for the fairies”.

He added: “Your client has been living in an unreal world.”