Owens v Owens: Wife forced to stay in an unhappy marriage

Last Wednesday’s ruling in Owens v Owens has seen 5 Supreme Court judges reluctantly find that the wife cannot divorce her husband based on his behaviour.

The Case for Divorce

Hugh and Tini Owens have been married since 1978 - although they have lived apart since 2015.

Mrs Owens’ petition claimed that Mr Owens’ behaviour was such that Mrs Owens could not reasonably be expected to live with him, and gave vague, almost flimsy, examples of that behaviour.

Mr Owens denied the allegations.

The Legal Case

The court must look at the individual allegations made by the petitioner and decide who to believe. It must then assess the effect that such behaviour had on the petitioner, before evaluating whether it was unreasonable for the petitioner to continue to live with the respondent.

Lady Hale specifically stated in her judgment that she found this case to be "very troubling". Lord Wilson stated that "parliament may wish to consider whether to replace" the current law.

Surely Time for a Change?

Family practitioners have been lobbying for years for a 'No Fault' divorce system where no mudslinging is necessary. This case might just prompt that change.

Surely that would be better for both parties and certainly for any young children? Until then, Mrs Owen’s only choice is to wait until they have been separated for 5 years and petition again on that basis.

Owens vs Owens: Calls for No-Fault Divorce Owens vs Owens: Calls for No-Fault Divorce

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