Unhappiness not grounds for divorce, woman is told

Hannah Rogers
July 27, 2018

Mrs Owens had argued that her husband Hugh's behaviour meant that it was unreasonable for her to be expected to live with him but, even though they were sympathetic, the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeal that "it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in an unhappy marriage".

Tini Owens, 68, is fighting to get divorced from her husband, High Owens, citing unreasonable behavior and claiming their marriage has been broken for some time.

The ruling says Mrs Owens must stay married to Mr Owens, who had objected to their divorce.

"Whilst the Supreme Court has, reluctantly, applied the law correctly, the fact that they have done so confirms there is now a divorce crisis in England and Wales, and the Government needs to take urgent action to address it", said Nigel Shepherd, a former Resolution chairman.

Grounds include, separation, adultery, desertion, or if one person has behaved in such a way that their partner can not be reasonably expected to live with them. In 2016 she failed to persuade a Family Court judge to allow her to divorce, and past year three appeal judges ruled against her after a Court of Appeal hearing.

Following the judgement, her solicitor said that Tini was "devastated" and "cannot move forward with her life".

Under current United Kingdom law, which dates back 50 years, anyone seeking divorce must show that a marriage has broken down due to adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, or live apart from his or her spouse for five years.

The couple married in 1978 and live in Broadway, Worcestershire, staying in neighbouring properties since 2015 when she petitioned for divorce.

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The decision has sparked debate about whether divorce laws in England and Wales are archaic and has renewed calls for "no fault" divorces, where neither party is blamed, to be made legal.

More than 70% of divorces are filed by wives, according to the Supreme Court-backed China Justice Big Data Service Platform.

The Supreme Court today, Wednesday 25 July, delivered its verdict on the application from the appellant and wife Tini Owens challenging the earlier rulings by the Court of Appeal and the original trial judge.

"The appeal of Mrs Owens must be dismissed".

Mrs Owens had been refused a divorce at first instance, because the judge found that the examples of her husband's behaviour which she provided were "flimsy" and could not have caused the judge to conclude that her marriage had broken down irretrievably.

Another said Parliament had "decreed" that being in a "wretchedly unhappy marriage" was not a ground for divorce.

A lawyer who represented Mr Owens said Supreme Court justices had rightly rejected Mrs Owens' arguments.

And with the case still dismissed by the Supreme Court justices, Tini had left without a recourse. "However, the Divorce (etc) Law Review Bill would help to bring in a new system of no-fault divorce, and bring an end to the present legislation, which is needlessly confrontational and inappropriate for the 21 century". It is not for us to change the law laid down by parliament.

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