In a decision likely to ignite strong support for divorce law reform, Tini Owens (66) has failed in her application to the Court of Appeal to overturn a family court ruling last year, which said she could not divorce her husband, Hugh Owens (78).
In her divorce petition she had made several allegations about the way Mr Owens treated her, including that she felt unloved, he was “insensitive” in his “manner and tone” and that she was “constantly mistrusted”. Judge Tolson had refused to grant a divorce petition on the basis her allegations were “of the kind to be expected in marriage” and therefore the marriage was not proven in law to have irretrievably broken down.
The Court of Appeal judges, led by Sir James Munby, upheld the original ruling. Handing down judgment he said the court could not interfere with Judge Tolson’s decision to refuse to grant Tini Owens a decree nisi. Sir James Munby said Judge Tolson had ‘directed himself correctly in law’ and that ‘in relation to the facts, and how they were to be evaluated, he was entitled to find as he did and for the reasons he gave.’ He also said that his reasoning ‘displays no error of law, principle or approach.’
In response to today’s decision there have already been renewed calls for divorce law to be reformed urgently, including in relation to the implementation of a no-fault divorce system http://www.hanne.co.uk/no-fault-divorce/ .
Nigel Shepherd, chair of family group Resolution, said: ‘Nobody should be compelled to remain in a marriage against their will, yet judges’ hands are tied by the current divorce law…today’s decision demonstrates why this needs to change.”
It remains to be seen whether the case will encourage what many would regard as a positive and welcome change in a system often described as ‘outdated’.
In the meantime today’s decision serves to highlight the importance of receiving timely and tailored legal advice in advance of issuing divorce proceedings; with a view to successfully navigating the current divorce system.