Woman denied divorce to challenge fault based system at Supreme Court

By Lenore Rice

A woman who was refused a divorce by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal says she will tell the Supreme Court that she should not have to prove “unreasonable behaviour” on the part of her husband.

Tini Owens, aged 66, says she is “locked in” to her marriage with Hugh Owens, aged 78, who is not agreed to the divorce. Mrs Owens had an affair in 2012 and told the court that her husband constantly berated her about it. She said the marriage broke down for her, but her husband disagrees, saying he has forgiven his wife and has moved on. The court told Mrs Owens that her husband’s behaviour was to be “expected in a marriage”, and Sir James Munby said that in law the marriage had not irretrievably broken down. The petition for a divorce and subsequent appeal was rejected.

Mrs Owens is taking her challenge to the Supreme Court and says she will argue that she should not have to prove “unreasonable behaviour” on the part of her husband, echoing the core principle behind the calls for the introduction of “no fault” divorce in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. A large number of family law solicitors and mediation groups have called for a change to the law which would mean that someone petitioning for divorce would no longer have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse.

No date has been set for the Supreme Court hearing of Mrs Owens’s appeal.

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