Ian Butterworth
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Date Published:24 Mar 2017 Last Updated:10 Apr 2021

Woman in “Loveless Marriage” Fails with Divorce Appeal

Family Law

It has been announced today that a woman has lost her appeal against a refusal to grant her a divorce on the basis of her husband’s unreasonable behaviour. The Court of Appeal, led by Sir James Munby, upheld an earlier decision that the allegations made were “of the kind to be expected in marriage”.

Mrs Tini Owens (aged 66) made 27 allegations about the way her husband, Mr Hugh Owens (aged 78) had behaved during their marriage. These included that he was “insensitive” and that she was “constantly mistrusted”. The couple married in 1978.

Sir James Munby refused Mrs Owens appeal on the basis that the lower Court had correctly found that the marriage had not “in law” irretrievably broken down. He stated as follows:-

“Parliament has decreed that it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage, though some people may say it should be”.

The outcome of this highly unusual divorce case will almost inevitably lead to renewed calls for the introduction of no fault divorce. At present, a spouse must prove one of the following 5 facts in order to secure a divorce:-

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • 2 years separation (with the consent of the other party)
  • 5 years separation (no consent required)

Sir James Munby has been supportive of previous attempts to introduce no fault divorces, indicating that Parliament should consider the approach taken in other jurisdictions where divorce is treated as an administrative matter.

Resolution, the national association of family lawyers, is campaigning for the introduction of a procedure where one or both spouses can give notice that their marriage has broken down irretrievably. The divorce would then proceed and, after a period of six months, if either or both spouses still think they are making the right decision, the divorce is finalised.

Should you require any advice or assistance with your divorce or with regard to your financial position following your separation, please do not hesitate to contact Ian Butterworth through this firm’s Family Department on 01202 636223.