Divorce proceedings reach Supreme Court

A couple’s divorce proceedings have reached the UK’s highest court after two lower courts denied a woman’s divorce petition.

Tini Owens married Hugh Owens in 1978 but petitioned for divorce in 2015 after leaving the marital home. However, the petition has been contested by Mr Owens, an 80-year-old former businessman, who denies allegations of unreasonable behaviour.

Her petition was refused by a family court judge in 2016 and by three appeal court judges in 2017. Both courts found that Mrs Owens had failed to demonstrate that the marriage had broken down irretrievably.

To do so, Mrs Owens would need to demonstrate one of the five following reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion, two years or more ago
  • Separation for two years with consent
  • Separation for five years without consent

The case has led to renewed calls for no-fault divorce to be available to couples splitting in the UK.

Chris Sherwood, the Chief Executive of the counselling charity Relate, told BBC News: “Blame needs to be taken out of the system.

“It’s not about making divorce any easier, it’s about supporting people to get the outcome they want.

“From our experience, when people are getting divorced it’s something that has been long thought through.

“Having a system that has assigning blame at its heart can be very painful for the couple, but also the children of the relationship.”

However, Colin Hart, Chairman of the Coalition for Marriage, disagrees saying: “Society has an interest in trying to keep marriages together and I think no-fault divorce is pushing that in the wrong direction.”

OGR Stock Denton has a wealth of experience advising on family law matters, including Divorce. If you would like further information about our services, please contact Peter Martin or Graeme Fraser or visit our website.

Link: Should it be easier to get a divorce in England and Wales?

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