Published: Fri, July 27, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Broadway woman who says marriage is unhappy loses Supreme Court battle

Broadway woman who says marriage is unhappy loses Supreme Court battle

There are calls for Britain's antiquated divorce laws to be changed, after the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a woman who wants to separate from her husband must remain "locked in a loveless" married.

The result leaves the wife in a desperately unhappy marriage and she now must wait until 2020 (when she will be 70) to divorce Mr Owens without his consent.

Nigel Shepherd, the body's former chair and longtime campaigner for no-fault divorce, said: "Resolution intervened on behalf of Mrs Owens because we believed that under the current law there should be a way to free her from a marriage that is clearly over".

Another judge, court president Brenda Hale, said it was a "very troubling case" and she had only "reluctantly" agreed to dismiss the appeal.

Until the law is reformed, practitioners face the increasingly hard balancing act of keeping the particulars as non-confrontational as possible while importing sufficient gravity to the allegations as to satisfy the requirements under s 1 (2)(b), which may be a concern in domestic violence cases.

Mr and Mrs Owens married in 1978 and lived in Broadway, Worcestershire, judges have heard.

Mrs Owens had been refused a divorce at first instance, because the judge found that the examples of her husband's behaviour which she provided were "flimsy" and could not have caused the judge to conclude that her marriage had broken down irretrievably.

However, Mr Owens denies her claims about his behaviour and says their marriage breakdown is due to her affair and the fact she is "bored".

Mrs Owens' lawyer said she was "devastated by this decision, which means that she can not move forward with her life".

The justices analysed the rival legal arguments, which revolved around concepts of "unreasonable" behaviour and "fault", at a hearing in London in May.

One, Lord Wilson, said he and his colleagues had ruled against Tini with reluctance. Ms Owens petitioned for divorce in 2015 after moving out.

A statement made by Mr Owens' solicitors said he should not be "unfairly criticised for attempting to save his marriage".

Her colleague Lord Wilson said: "She must remain married to Mr Owens for the time being".

Caroline Elliott, a specialist lawyer, said: "England and Wales now lag far behind other countries with their divorce laws and there is a strong mood for reform, which includes the introduction of "no-fault" divorces".

She says he has behaved unreasonably and that she should be allowed to end her marriage.

Caroline Elliott of law firm Shakespeare Martineau said: "England and Wales lag far behind other countries with their divorce laws".

The Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court were both keen to remind us that it is not for courts to usurp Parliament's sovereignty: the court's role is to interpret the law rather than change it.

Barrister Philip Marshall QC, who leads Mrs Owens' legal team, told Supreme Court justices that a "modest shift" of focus in interpretation of legislation was required.

One appeal judge said she reached her conclusion with "no enthusiasm whatsoever" but that Parliament would have to decide whether to introduce "no fault" divorce on demand.

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