UK Supreme Court rejects woman's appeal in divorce case

27 July, 2018, 21:54 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Wedding rings are seen before a wedding in a catholic church in Heredia Costa Rica

Lawyers called for urgent reform of England's divorce laws yesterday after the Supreme Court ruled a woman must remain in a "loveless" marriage despite it having effectively ended.

Mrs Owens had told the Supreme Court that her 40-year marriage was "loveless" and "broken down" and she wanted a divorce after she had an affair.

When that is not the case, the law states that the couple must have lived apart for two years and both parties must consent to divorce for it to be granted.

"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". In 2016 she failed to persuade a Family Court judge to allow her to divorce, and previous year three appeal judges ruled against her after a Court of Appeal hearing.

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".

Past year the Court of Appeal ruled that Mrs Owens had failed to establish that her marriage had, legally, irretrievably broken down.

"Hugh Owens takes no pleasure from this process which has impacted on the private family life of him and his wife", the statement said.

Mrs Owens may have the resources to cope.

A year ago three appeal judges ruled against dismissed Mrs Owens' challenge to that decision after a Court of Appeal hearing in London.

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The couple married in 1978 and live in Broadway, Worcestershire, staying in neighbouring properties since 2015 when she petitioned for divorce.

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

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

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

Another said Parliament had "decreed" that being in a "wretchedly unhappy marriage" was not grounds for divorce. Whilst it is clear that the Supreme Court were not comfortable with that approach, they were ultimately hamstrung by the legislation and had to abide with it.

"In bringing her appeal, she was essentially advocating divorce by unilateral demand of the petitioner; ignoring the court's duty to have some objective regard to the respondent's behaviour". "It is not for us to change the law laid down by Parliament - our role is only to interpret and apply the law that Parliament has given us".

Hugh and Tini Owens can not divorce, the Supreme Court has ruled.

"In practice, our current laws can often create unnecessary conflict in divorce - forcing couples to blame each other when there is no real need, other than a legal requirement, to do so".

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