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Hazel Wright comments on the landmark Owens v Owens Supreme Court judgment in iNews, The Law Society Gazette and Family Law Week

  • July 25, 2018
  • By Hazel Wright, Partner

In a controversial ruling, the Supreme Court has today denied a woman who claims she is in an unhappy marriage a divorce from her husband of 40 years. It means Tini Owens, 68, will have to stay in the marriage, which she has described as loveless, for another two years.

Mrs Owens petitioned for a divorce in 2015 after moving out of their marital home. Both the Family Court and the Court of Appeal refused Mrs Owens’ petition for divorce. In the latter, judges said she had failed to establish her marriage had legally, irretrievably broken down. One appeal judge said the judgement had been reached with “no enthusiasm whatsoever”. Denying the allegations made against him, Mr Owens refused to agree to a divorce.

Hazel Wright, partner at Hunters Solicitors, commented:

“The Supreme Court had little option but to deny Mrs Owens a release from her loveless marriage (from which she has been physically separated for over three years), because their job is to interpret legislation and not to change it, however much that might be needed.  The prospect now is grim: to obtain a divorce parties will be forced to make vigorous allegations against each other which will entrench division which can help no one, least of all children. For years, family law practitioners and the Courts have agreed to interpret the legislation in such a way as to avoid its worst effects, but this is no longer possible. Only the Government can help by bringing forward legislation to change the law as quickly as possible, and this judgment will give impetus to the reforming efforts of Resolution and The Times amongst others. However, its eye is not on this ball at the moment, and we may have a long wait.”

Read the full article in the iNews, The Law Society Gazette and Family Law Week.

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