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Divorce law could be on the verge of reform

A woman is appealing to Britain’s top court to let her out of her ‘loveless marriage’.

It is a rare case, but one that is a prime example of why outdated divorce laws in England and Wales need to change.

Tini Owens, 68, wanted to end her 40-year marriage to husband Hugh, as she was ‘wretchedly unhappy’.

She said her husbands’ behavior was unreasonable and made a total of 27 allegations, including his insensitivity and his manner and tone towards her. She said that this behavior had made her feel unloved and untrusted.

Retired businessman, Mr Owens disagreed that the marriage was unhappy and refused to consent to a divorce, saying that they still had a ‘few more years to enjoy’.

Mrs Owens failed to convince the family courts that her husband’s behavior was unreasonable, as judges felt it was what could ‘reasonably be expected’ in a marriage.

She then turned to the Court of Appeal to help her end her marriage, but they refused to overturn the Family Court ruling.

However, it would appear that the judges have some sympathy for the position Mrs Owens has found herself in, as one appeal court judge said that her decision has been made with ‘no enthusiasm whatsoever’.

Don Bird, senior partner and divorce law specialist, commented on the case: “Resolution, of which I am a member, has campaigned for many years for the divorce laws to be reformed to remove the need for attaching blame as this would reduce the acrimony in many cases. I believe it would also enable more couples to agree issues relating to children and finance.”

As divorce law currently stands in England and Wales, it is necessary to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. At least one of five grounds has to be proved: adultery; unreasonable behavior; desertion after two years; two years separation, with the consent of both parties, or five years separation without the other parties consent.

The case has now been put before the Supreme Court and five Supreme Court justices will examine the case and are expected to make a decision later in the year. This decision could well pave the way for the long awaited changes in divorce law.

Author: Gail Harris

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