The extremely unusual case of Hugh and Tini Owens adds to the debate for whether we should have no fault divorce in this country. Aaron Keene, Head of Family Law at The Wilkes Partnership discusses.
Tini Owens is appealing against the refusal of a Judge to grant her a divorce last year. This is extremely unusual. It is very rare that divorce cases are defended in this country. Judges usually persuade parties to reach a compromise with regard to defended divorces as they are generally seen to be a waste of the parties’ time and money.
Their time is better spent on a marital breakdown sorting out the arrangements for children, when there are young children, and dealing with financial matters. Often the reason for defending the divorce is not that one party does not accept that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, but often is to prevent a claim for financial remedy, which can be made as part of the divorce proceedings.
Unfortunately at present, if a couple have not been separated for 2 years, and even then both parties must consent, then to obtain a divorce you have to petition based upon the other party’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
In the case of Mr and Mrs Owens Mr Owens denied the allegations of unreasonable behaviour made against him. The Judge concluded that the allegations were of a kind to be expected in a marriage and refused to grant her a decree of divorce. Mrs Owens wants the Court of Appeal to overturn the decision of Judge Robin Tolson.
It would appear that the widespread call to reform divorce laws appears to be falling on deaf ears as the Government have confirmed they have no current plans to change the existing legislation.
Only last year 150 members of the national organisation of family lawyers, Resolution, visited Parliament to discuss the matter with MPs.
For many it is difficult to believe that it in the 21st Century someone still has to prove fault to dissolve the marriage with the distress and upset that often causes the other party and the additional costs that would be involved.
For advice on any Family law related matter please contact Aaron Keene on 0121 710 5947 or [email protected].