Unhappy wife ‘must stay married’ Supreme Court rules

Owens divorce

Source PA 37729721 Law 'Uneasy feelings are of no consequence- SC throws out Owens divorce appeal By Monidipa Fouzder25 July 2018

A woman who wants to divorce her husband of 40 years because she says their marriage has broken down is "devastated" after losing a Supreme Court fight, a lawyer has said.

Tini Owens, 68, wanted to divorce her husband, Hugh, who refused.

Lord Wilson noted in the judgment that Tini would be able to divorce in 2020, when the couple will have been separated for five years and she will be eligible for a divorce without consent or evidence of fault.

The UK has stringent laws that only allow divorce if a person can prove the marriage has fallen apart because of adultery, unreasonable behavior or desertion.

It's a complicated saga: Ms Owens says she first considered getting a divorce in 2012, but did not leave the family home until 2015 - issuing a divorce petition in May that year.

Simon Beccle, Owens' attorney, said the public would find the decision "hard to understand".

One judge, Lord Wilson, said the decision had been reached "with reluctance" and Parliament needed to decide if divorce laws should be reformed. In their decision, they said that she had failed to establish that their marriage had irretrievably broken down.

After all, just because Mr Owens won doesn't mean his marriage is saved: his wife has left him and that isn't going to change.

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The couple were married in 1978 and have two adult children.

Nigel Shepherd of Resolution, the lawyers' group urging non-confrontational divorces, said: "There is now a divorce crisis in England and Wales, and the Government needs to take urgent action to address it".

Past year three appeal judges ruled against her after a Court of Appeal hearing in London.

For her part, Lady Hale stated, at paragraph 46: "I have found this a very troubling case".

He summarised the current position, which blends objective and subjective elements: a petitioner must demonstrate that a reasonable person would conclude that this particular respondent has behaved in a way that this particular petitioner can not reasonably be expected to live with the respondent, taking into account all of the circumstances and the history of the marriage.

Caroline Elliott of law firm Shakespeare Martineau said: "England and Wales lag far behind other countries with their divorce laws".

But Mr Owens refuses to agree to a divorce and denies Mrs Owens' allegations about his behaviour. However, Hale said it was not judges role to "change the law".

"In bringing her appeal, she was essentially advocating divorce by unilateral demand of the petitioner; ignoring the court's duty to have some objective regard to the respondent's behaviour". Currently, couples have to apportion blame when citing unreasonable behaviour as grounds for divorce and this causes a huge amount of stress and strain on individuals and their families. The marriage is over as the Court of Appeal found but Mrs Owens can not get divorced.

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