Earlier this year, we reported the progression of a divorce application that gathered lots of media attention. Tini Owens sought to divorce her husband on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour, supported by 27 different examples. Mrs Owens allegations against her husband were broadly based on ideas of unhappiness, discontentment and disillusionment, which the lower courts felt were not factors which a petitioner, such as Mrs Owens, can rely upon to prove the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage.
However, the Supreme Court has given Mrs Owens permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision not to her allow her to divorce her husband because his behaviour, as found in the lower courts, was not considered ‘unreasonable’. The Supreme Court’s website has now provided their judgment, which can be found here.
Those representing Mrs Owens have indicated that the legal team “… will argue that the Courts’ emphasis on trying to find that a Respondent’s behaviour is in some way “unreasonable” is wrong. It will be argued that this is a “linguistic trap” and that the statute does not require unreasonable behaviour, but simply behaviour such that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.”
Section 1(2)(b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 states, “... a petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party to a marriage on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
(2)The court hearing a petition for divorce shall not hold the marriage to have broken down irretrievably unless the petitioner satisfies the court of one or more of the following facts, that is to say …
(b)that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent…“
It is understood that Resolution, long term advocates for no-fault divorce, will also be intervening in the proceedings, lending their voice to wide spread calls to ease separating couples ability to divorce in the future.