Wife’s petition to divorce husband dismissed by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Judgment in Owens –v- Owens released today:

This case concerns Mrs Owens petition for divorce from her husband of 40 years.  She is 68, he is 80.  She wishes to divorce,  he doesn’t and he therefore defended her petition.  At a county court trial, the Judge found that Mrs Owens examples of behaviour were all “flimsy”, “exaggerated” or “taken out of context”.  The court found that she had failed to prove that the marriage had broken down as a consequence of her husband’s behaviour and therefore the long appeal process began and ended up in The Supreme Court which has today delivered their Judgment.  Mrs Owen’s appeal has been dismissed and she must remain married to her husband.

Mrs Owens must now wait until 2020 when she can proceed with a petition based upon 5 years separation (which does not require her husband’s consent).  However, this case highlights to all practitioners the need for careful drafting of divorce petitions.  A good practitioner will find a balance between proving that the petitioner’s life is intolerable as a result of the respondent’s behaviour whilst seeking to keep tension to a minimum. 

If, like Mrs Owens, you fail to demonstrate a link between the other party’s behaviour and it becoming intolerable to live together, then you too may find yourself in a position where despite your feeling that the marriage has broken down, you will be unable to legally remove yourself from it.

If you require advice in relation to your marriage breakdown, our family team at Bevirs can offer you expert advice.

 Michelle Bowyer 25.07.2018