If ever there was a case for no fault divorce, poor Mrs Owens’ is it.
It was announced yesterday that, despite taking her appeal to the Supreme Court, Tini Owens must remain married to her husband of 40 years because a “joyless” marriage is not adequate grounds for divorce if one party refuses to agree.
There was I thinking we lived in the 21st century…
Whilst the judges were reluctant to find in Mr Owens’ favour, they decreed it is not their place to change the law.
It is time for action
Whilst the politicians continue to argue over Brexit, there are genuine legal wrongs that need righting that are being ignored.
It is high time our family laws were updated to reflect the way we live today and if Mrs Owens wishes to end her marriage, why shouldn’t she?
The Supreme Court was her last hope. She is now at the mercy of her husband until 2020, by which time they will have lived separately for five years and she will be eligible for divorce without consent.
The blame game
In my experience, putting the emphasis on fault exacerbates what is already a stressful and emotional experience.
Clearly, the Owens’ case is an extreme example and it is rare for a spouse to defend a divorce, yet we still require couples to point the finger and for one party to ultimately take the blame for the demise of the relationship.
The concept of no fault divorce is not trivialising marriage, it would simply enable couples to part ways with less acrimony and bitterness. There are currently mechanisms in place allowing couples to separate amicably without court intervention, namely mediation and Collaborative Law, but they require the consent of both parties.
No publicity is bad publicity
Whilst we all feel so very sorry for Mrs Owens the silver lining is that the media coverage of her case has brought this issue into the public domain.
Our MPs must now sit up and take notice. Without someone championing this cause in the Commons, we will never see the changes to the divorce laws we so desperately need.
Surely in this day and age, it is not acceptable for a judge to declare Mrs Owens’ divorce petition “flimsy and exaggerated” and suggest she was “more sensitive than most wives.”
Resolution, the body that represents family solicitors like me, intervened in this case and continues to lead the fight for no fault divorce. I, like many of its members, support wholeheartedly its campaign and despair at the apparent lack of interest in Parliament.
Let’s make sure Mrs Owens is an exception – not the rule – so that at some point in the future, we have the ability to divorce like grownups.