Woman denied divorce aims for Supreme Court

Family Law|April 24th 2017

A woman in her 60s who was denied a divorce last month plans to try and take her case to the Supreme Court.

Tini Owens was married to her husband Hugh for more than 30 years but the relationship eventually broke down and she moved out of the couple’s home. She filed for divorce but her husband defended the case and her application was – unusually – rejected, on the grounds that her complaints lacked substance. That verdict was then upheld by the Court of Appeal who said Mrs Owens had failed to demonstrate that her husband had behaved “in such a way that [she] cannot reasonably be expected to live with [him]”, as defined by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

The verdict caused consternation amongst family lawyers, with many suggesting that she would now had no choice but to wait until 2020, by which point she will have been formally separated from her husband for five years and his consent to divorce will no longer be required.

Mrs Owen’s barrister, Philip Marshall QC, has now lodged an application for permission to take the case to Britain’s highest court.

Speaking to Solicitors Journal, the QC claimed:

“I suspect many ordinary people will have been surprised to learn that anyone who finds themselves trapped in a loveless and desperately unhappy marriage is not able to obtain a divorce unless they are able to prove the other party is at fault (or they are prepared to wait five years).”

He added:

“Hopefully her appeal will allow the Supreme Court to review the old case law and find a workable solution which is both intellectually honest and better reflects modern thinking and social attitudes.”

Mr Marshall is Joint Head of Chambers at high profile set 1 King’s Bench Walk as well as chairman of the Family Law Bar Association.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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