Woman can't divorce husband just because she's unhappy: court

27 July, 2018, 21:54 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Tini Owens loses Supreme Court divorce fight

The Supreme Court today ruled that Tini Owens, 68, could not be divorced from her husband of 40 years.

"This ruling from the Supreme Court about the need to prove unreasonable behaviour under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, underlines the importance of the bill introduced by Baroness Butler-Sloss, which seeks to make the first major changes to divorce legislation in almost 50 years".

Solicitor Simon Beccle said: "Mrs Owens is devastated by this decision which means she can not move forward with her life and obtain her independence from Mr Owens".

She said for example, that some reports suggest that 61 per cent of the 375,000 or so Islamic couples living in England are not validly married under English law - and thus have no rights before the English courts if divorced.

Handing down its highly-awaited judgment in Owens v Owens, the court dismissed Tini Owens's appeal in relation to a lower court's decision to refuse to grant her a decree nisi, even though the judge had correctly found that the marriage had broken down.

First instance decisionHHJ Tolson QC rejected the wife's petition, referring to it as hopeless.

Mrs Owens' solicitor Simon Beccle said his client had hoped that justices would make a decision which would be "forward thinking and fit with the current social mores".

But the UK's Supreme Court has dealt her a harsh blow, unanimously ruling that just because she's unhappy in the union doesn't mean she can end it, the Guardian reports. But she said reforming the current fault-based system is only part of the issue facing the 110,000 couples who divorced each year in England.

He said the "question for Parliament" was whether the law governing "entitlement to divorce" remained "satisfactory".

Mr Owens had refused to agree to a divorce, justices heard, and denied Mrs Owens' allegations about his behaviour.

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

Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, said while she found the case "very troubling" it was not for judges to "change the law".

Her lawyers said a "modest shift" of focus in interpretation of legislation was required.

She lives in a house the couple own next door to the marital home in Broadway, Worcestershire.

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

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

Supreme Court justices have now also ruled against her. The reality is that the law can only be changed by Parliament - but it doesn't appear that change is coming any time soon.

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".

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