Monday, 19 November, 2018

Owens Vs Owens No-Fault Divorce Rejected

The owens v owens judgment banner Tini Owens loses Supreme Court divorce fight
Glenn Montgomery | 27 July, 2018, 21:53

She now must wait until 2020, when the couple have been separated for five years.

Critics say English divorce laws need to be overhauled because a person cannot divorce without a spouse's consent unless they can prove adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

"Resolution, and many others, feel that it is anachronistic, if not farcical, that a determined and wealthy husband can prevent his wife from bringing their marriage to an end for five years, despite the judge's clear finding that the marriage had broken down, and that he was deluding himself if he thought otherwise".

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

Although their decision was unanimous, the Supreme Court judges said they ruled it "with reluctance", telling Ms Owens that she must remain his wife because an unhappy marriage is not adequate grounds for a divorce if one spouse refuses to it.

A cooling-off period is seen as a countermechanism against recklessness and impulsiveness among some irresponsible couples, she said.

"The Supreme Court judges had to make their ruling within the context of the current law".

Specialist lawyers have long campaigned for the introduction of the "no-fault" divorce and say judges should not compel people to stay married.

He also said there was a question for parliament in whether the law governing entitlement to divorce remained satisfactory.

Nigel Shepherd, the body's former chair and longtime campaigner for no-fault divorce, said: "Resolution intervened on behalf of Mrs Owens because we believed that under the current law there should be a way to free her from a marriage that is clearly over".

Mr Owens disputed 27 allegations about his behaviour, which were listed in her initial petition, saying these were "to be expected in a marriage".

Supreme Court President Lady Hale admitted she found the case "very troubling", while another said she had reached her conclusion without enthusiasm.

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

A wealthy couple, the Owens had been married since 1978 and have two grown-up children.

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

Lady Hale, in particular, felt that those case-management decisions, in which both parties and the judge had been involved, amounted to "mistakes".

Previous courts found that her examples of his bad behaviour - needed to grant a divorce - were "flimsy" and "isolated incidents", with the case eventually making it's way to the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, she was not convinced that Hugh's behaviour met the bar for "unreasonable behaviour" and was "reluctantly persuaded that this appeal should be dismissed".

In fact, parliament has already passed the Family Law Act 1996, which would have introduced a no-fault divorce law.

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