Tini Owens taking her case to the Supreme Court

Back in March we reported on the case of Tini Owens, a woman whose divorce petition based on the unreasonable behaviour of her husband was rejected by the Court despite the fact that she had 27 allegations against her husband. (Research findings into fault based divorce) The trial judge did find that Mrs Owens could not go on living with her husband but said that the facts that Mrs Owens relied on to seek her divorce were “minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage”.

The Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of HHJ Tolson QC, with the President of the Family Division saying that the Court could not interfere with the decision of the trial judge and remarking that “Parliament has decreed that it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage, though some people may say it should be.”

Since then Mrs Owens has sought permission to take her case to the Supreme Court for a final decision on whether she can be divorced from her husband on the grounds that she has already placed before the court. Her barrister plans to argue that the courts’ emphasis on trying to find that a respondent’s behaviour is in some way “unreasonable” is wrong. It will be argued that this is a “linguistic trap” and that the statute does not require unreasonable behaviour, but simply behaviour such that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.

Resolution, an organisation of family practitioners dedicated to resolving family disputes in the most non-confrontational way, have lodged written submissions with the Supreme Court in support of Mrs Owens’ application to appeal. Resolution will also be applying to be joined to the case as an intervener in the substantive appeal. Resolution has campaigned for the introduction of “no fault divorce” in England and Wales. There will be many around the country who will continue to watch this case develop with anticipation as to what changes (if any) it might bring to the law surrounding divorce.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk