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Unhappy Marriage Not Grounds for Divorce


In a controversial ruling, the Supreme Court has ruled that a woman who claims her 40 year marriage is “wretchedly unhappy, loveless and broken down” cannot divorce her husband until they have been separated for a full five years.


Tini Owens started divorce proceedings after moving out of the family home in 2015, following a period of escalating tension in the relationship exacerbated when Mrs Owens had an affair.

She said that her husband, Hugh Owens, had behaved unreasonably and that she could not reasonably be expected to stay married.


Mr Owens refused to agree to a divorce, denying Mrs Owens’ allegations in respect of his behavior and stating that if their marriage had broken down it was because she had had an affair or “was bored”.

Two years ago, a Family Court judge rejected Mrs Owens’ allegations and refused to grant her a divorce. The trial judge felt that Mrs Owens had failed to prove that her husband had behaved in such a way as to entitle her to divorce him under current laws. In addition, Mrs Owen’s petition was subsequently rejected by the Court of Appeal.


More recently, Supreme Court justices reluctantly refused the divorce, saying that Mrs Owens had failed to establish that her marriage had, legally, irretrievably broken down.

These senior judges did highlight changes to “social and moral values” over time. Furthermore, they recommended that MPs should consider changing the law, bringing the government under pressure to reform a particularly sensitive legal area.


Mrs Owens now has to wait two more years until she is legally allowed to dissolve her marriage.

Had Mr and Mrs Owens been on more amicable terms, they could have applied for a “no fault divorce” which is for couples who have grown apart or wish to separate on a more friendly basis. It is a more administrative process and the most common reason is usually “irreconcilable differences”.

Seymours offers clients a wide variety of family law and divorce advice and assistance. Contact Tarsem Sangha and the team at Seymours Solicitors on law@seymours.co.uk, Coventry 024 7655 3961 | Leamington 01926 350031.

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