The Court of Appeal recently heard an appeal by Tini Owens against an earlier court refusal to grant her a divorce from her husband, on the basis that the marriage had irretrievably broken down due to her husband’s unreasonable behaviour. Mr and Mrs Owens have been married for 39 years. Mr Owens denies that the marriage has broken down and is happy for the couple to reconcile.
It is highly unusual for a court to dismiss a petition and thus provide a refusal to divorce. However, the 27 allegations of unreasonable behaviour made by Mrs Owens against her husband were broadly based on ideas of unhappiness, discontentment and disillusionment, which are not factors which a petitioner, such as Mrs Owens, can rely upon to prove the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage.
Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, discussing the refusal, said: “It is not a ground for divorce if you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage – people may say it should be.” Sir James has been a critic himself of the current regime of fault based divorce and has been part of a growing camarilla of senior judges and leading lawyers seeking a change in the law, to allow divorce where neither spouse has to make an allegation of fault – the so called “no fault” divorce. Hunter & Uro partners, Pui Uro and Philip Hunter attended Resolution’s call on government to make appropriate changes to support wider societal views on no fault divorce late last year.
Whilst Mr Owens has so far succeeded in blocking the divorce proceedings, it remains to be seen quite what sort of marriage he is left with. It seems clear that as soon as she can, Mrs Owens will apply to court for the marriage to be dissolved.
If you wish to discuss divorce proceedings with one of our expert solicitors, contact us on 0207 177 9777 or 01234 889777 to arrange a free consultation. Hunter & Uro Solicitors provide specialist family law advice to clients in London, Bedford, Northampton and the surrounding rural villages.