Court ruling leaves woman trapped in loveless marriage

27th March 2017

Court ruling leaves woman trapped in loveless marriage

An unhappy marriage is not a good enough reason for a court to grant a divorce.

That’s the verdict in the case of a 65-year-old woman who has been told she must stay wedded against her will because her husband will not agree to divorce and the court found that she did not have the ground to proceed.

Tini Owens, from Worcestershire, had sought to escape her 37-year wedlock with Hugh Owens, 78, but the Court of Appeal decided that her unhappiness was insufficient to grant a decree nisi.

However, the appeal judges, led by Sir James Munby, voiced their concerns over the inadequacy of the current divorce law.

In his judgment Sir James said: “The simple fact, to speak plainly, is that in this respect the law which the judges have to apply and the procedures which they have to follow are based on hypocrisy and lack of intellectual honesty.”

His comments follow a campaign led by family lawyers for “no-fault” divorces, which would allow couples to split without having to cite the bad behaviour of one partner as the reason.

In her bid to secure a divorce, Mrs Owens described several disputes which she said left her “embarrassed and upset”.

They included an argument the pair had had in an airport in Mexico over a gift for their housekeeper. On another occasion he had upbraided her in front of the housekeeper for failing to put cardboard into a skip correctly, she said.

Mr Owens argued his wife’s accounts were “exaggerated and inaccurate”.

What constitute grounds for divorce?

When you apply for a divorce you must prove you have been married for more than a year and that your marriage has broken down, before giving one of the following five reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • You have lived apart for more than two years and both agree to the divorce
  • You have lived apart for at least five years, even if your husband or wife disagrees

How can our divorce lawyers help?

We know that there are few more emotionally challenging hurdles in life than separation and divorce, which is why our specialist team of lawyers are here to give you advice and support at every step of the way.

We have a wealth of experience in ensuring our clients are looked after and that they fully understand the process, from beginning to end.

That includes advice on how to get divorced, the myths, timescale and cost, the implications for financial arrangements and also any children’s arrangements.

Our family lawyers can see you in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge or Melton.

To find out more or to make a fixed fee appointment, call 01473 211121 or email

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