Jul 30

Owens -v- Owens - Judgment Released

Posted by gowenstevensadmin on Monday 30th July 2018

You may remember that Mrs. Owens issued a divorce on the grounds of what she cited as her husband’s unreasonable behaviour. Mr. Owens defended the divorce and the Court at first instance said that Mrs Owens’ 27 examples of her husbands’ unreasonable behaviour were flimsy and exaggerated. Mrs Owens’ appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal and her Appeal was dismissed. She was Appealing that decision by taking the matter to the Supreme Court. Her Appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court issued its judgement today.

It is a sad though rare example of someone being told that they must remain married even though they have complained about their spouse’s behaviour, however the Judges of the Supreme Court have confirmed that the Judge correctly interpreted the legislation. The legislation in question dates from 1973 however and is arguably out of step with modern views. 2 out of the 3 of the Supreme Court Judges who rejected the Appeal have said that they have misgivings about the decision which they had to make and they have suggested that Parliament should look at the legislation.

As a member of Resolution I was in support of the proposed “no fault” divorce bill. I do not suggest that a marriage, with all of the bonds that go with it, should be easy to dissolve on a whim. As a family lawyer my own observation is that people (generally) only decide to divorce after much soul searching. I do believe that if one spouse has come to the painful conclusion that they are in an unhappy marriage then they should be allowed to leave that (contractual) relationship with as much dignity as possible, for the sake of all of those involved. Sadly, Mrs Owens has not been given that opportunity.


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