Locked into an unhappy marriage

On 25th July 2018, 5 judges decided that Tini Owens must remain married to her husband of 40 years.

Mrs Owens had filed her divorce petition citing her husband’s unreasonable behaviour as the ground for irretrievable marriage breakdown. Mrs Owens stated that her marriage made her feel “unloved, isolated and alone” and provided 27 examples of unreasonable behaviour. Mr Owens, however, considers that the couple have a good few more years to enjoy (despite them both living in separate houses) and disagreed with her examples. He defended the proceedings. Now, this case has been decided by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court collectively formed the view that Mr Owens behaviour was “to be expected in a marriage” and “parliament has decreed that it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage”.

In an age where no-fault divorce is being mooted as a viable alternative to the blame game, it is greatly discouraging to see this stance and illustrates more clearly than ever the need for their introduction.

It should be noted that less than 1% of Respondents (persons receiving the divorce petition) seek to defend proceedings and they remain exceptionally rare. For now, however, Mrs Owens will have to wait another 2 years before being able to divorce her husband on the fact of 5 years’ separation.

If you have any concerns about any of the issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact us for further advice.