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Are we stood at the edge of change for divorce in England and Wales?

It’s judgement day tomorrow for Owens v Owens.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 25 July, the Supreme Court will deliver its long-awaited Judgment in relation to divorce proceedings commenced by Mrs Tini Owens.

This high-profile case has helped to shine the media spotlight on no-fault divorce and the continuing calls from the legal profession amongst others to allow couples to separate without having to apportion blame on a legal document.

Senior Partner of our London Chancery Lane office, Graham Coy shares this thoughts on the case before the big day:

“Much has been written about the Owens v Owens case and much is expected of the court but for me, tomorrow raises two key questions:

Firstly, will Tiny Owens at last obtain a divorce from her estranged husband, Hugh Owens, or will she have to wait even longer?

Secondly, will the Supreme Court bite the bullet and make the law clear or will the Judgment be narrowly confined to the facts of this particular case?

In the case of the second question, this is something the Supreme Court cannot deliver. Only Parliament can and at best, the government is equivocal about introducing legislation.

However, what the court can decide is what is meant by the present law when it requires someone such as Mrs. Owens to satisfy a court that her marriage has broken down irretrievably because her husband “has behaved in such a way that she cannot reasonably be expected to live with him”.

In other words, how serious does a husband’s behaviour have to be?

And, whose opinion matters when it comes to deciding what is and what is not reasonable behaviour?  Is Mrs Owens opinion decisive or is it the view which a Judge reaches? Or is it even a combination of the two?

Tomorrow we may at last have some clarity and so may Mr. and Mrs. Owens who have had to live out their private life in public.

I look forward to hearing the judgment.

Graham Coy

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Graham was based at the firm's London family law office. His career as a family law specialist has spanned three decades. He is an experienced advocate, mediator and arbitrator who has worked in all areas of family law.

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