Owens v. Owens demonstrates the need for No Fault Divorce

30th July 2018

In Brief: the decision in Owens v Owens by Amanda Adeola, Family Law Associate

The Owens case handed down by the Supreme Court on 25th July raises a number of issues in relation to divorce proceedings. Whilst Mrs Owens had issued her petition based on Mr Owens behaviour, he defended the proceedings thereby leading to her application for decree nisi being rejected. This of course was the subject of her appeal to the Supreme Court.

The judges quiet rightly felt uneasy about denying her appeal, after all why should she remain in a marriage in which she is unhappy thereby not being able to move forward with her life. However as the Judges further rightly said, their duty is to uphold the law and it is for parliament to change the law.

Mrs Owens now has to wait until 2020 when she would have been separated from Mr Owens for 5 years to bring divorce proceedings to dissolve their marriage relying on the fact of 5 years separation without Mr Owens consent.

This judgement fuels the cry for a no fault based divorce system in the UK. The matrimonial causes act is 45 years old and in need of an over haul. This is why Resolution- First for Family Law continues to campaign for this. Surely there is a better way of doing things.

At the present time, if you wish to issue divorce proceedings, you have to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down relying on one of the five facts. With adultery and behaviour being instant remedies, the other facts include desertion, 2 years separation with consent and 5 years separation without consent.

Sometimes, couples just drift apart and no longer wish to be together. They don’t want to blame each other and just wish to separate amicably however, a behaviour petition is the only option to issue divorce proceedings immediately if there has been no adultery and sadly this often creates further difficulties and hostility where it is not needed as we see in Day to Day practice.

The Family solicitors at BHP Law echo the views of Resolution and agree that the blame game must end. The law has to change with the times to allow people like Mrs Owens to move on with their lives. It is a sad state of affairs when you have to remain in an unhappy situation because the law will not let you get out of it.

For advice on divorce, separation, dissolution of civil partnership and ancillary financial matters, do contact our family team at BHP Law. We offer free initial 30 minutes consultation by telephone or face to face. You can reach our dedicated team on 01325 466794 or 0191 2210898



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