Mrs Owens has become a well-known name in the world of family law following the refusal by the court to allow her to divorce her husband of 39 years.
The Judge at first instance refused to grant the divorce (following the Husband’s decision to defend) on the basis that the reasons cited in her petition did not amount to ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and were merely examples of behaviour that one could expect within a marriage and that simply finding yourself in an unhappy marriage was not enough. Mrs Owens took her case to the Court of Appeal but her appeal was denied.
Resolution, an organisation for family lawyers, who are committed to dealing with divorce in a constructive, non-confrontational way, have been campaigning for no-fault divorce. It is a view shared by many Family Law practitioners that the law relating to divorce does not necessarily sit well within modern life and it would seem sensible to have the option to divorce on a ‘no-fault’ basis where both parties are in agreement that the marriage has broken down but do not wish to add fuel to the fire in what is often already a very difficult situation.
At present the only way to divorce without placing blame is to wait until you have been separated for 2 years and divorce by consent, or to wait 5 years (if there is no consent). The latter option may be the only option available to Mrs Owens to obtain a divorce under the present law.
Mrs Owens has now been granted permission to take her case to the Supreme Court.
Watch this space as a decision in Mrs Owens’ favour could be the key to reform that could make way for no-fault divorce.