Woman in 'loveless' marriage denied divorce by court

27 July, 2018, 21:58 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Tini Owens outside the Supreme Court in London yesterday

Tini Owens asked the court to grant her a divorce from her husband of 40 years, Hugh, who is refusing to split. At present, it is not possible for a couple to divorce without blame being apportioned unless they have separated for at least two years.

At issue was a portion of the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973, which says that courts can not grant a quick divorce unless a husband or wife cites adultery, "unreasonable behaviour" or desertion as the reason for the divorce.

She formally began the divorce process at the same time, claiming the marriage had broken down "irretrievably" and that her husband behaved in such a way that she couldn't "reasonably be expected to live with him".

Mrs Owens' solicitor said many people would find the Supreme Court decision "hard to understand".

One appeal judge said she reached her conclusion with "no enthusiasm whatsoever" but that Parliament would have to decide whether to introduce "no fault" divorce on demand.

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.

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

"The appeal of Mrs Owens must be dismissed".

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.

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

Hugh Owens rejected wife’s claims
Hugh Owens rejected wife’s claims

The case "has sparked a debate about whether divorce laws in England and Wales need to change", says the BBC.

Tini and Hugh Owens, who have two adult children, were married in 1978.

"I have found this a very troubling case", Judge Brenda Hale wrote.

The judge had applied the right legal test: Mrs Owens' allegations were just not strong enough to get a divorce.

Another said Parliament had "decreed" that being in a "wretchedly unhappy marriage" was not a ground for divorce. "Our role is only to interpret and apply the law that parliament has given us".

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

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

Supreme CourtThe wife appealed to the Supreme Court, which has this morning - with reluctance - dismissed her appeal.

The current law in England and Wales doesn't provide for a no-fault divorce.

As for Tini, it seems she will have to put up with Hugh for a little longer before a divorce is finally allowed to be granted in 2020.

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