A woman who claims she has been ‘condemned to a loveless marriage’ by the UK courts has taken her case to the Supreme Court in a bid to divorce her husband of 40 years.
Tini Owens, 66, previously failed in her attempts to divorce Hugh Owens, 78, with both the High Court and Court of Appeal upholding an earlier decision that the couple’s ‘minor rows’ were not sufficient grounds for divorce.
Mrs Owens had initially asked the courts to grant a divorce on the ground that the marriage had irretrievably broken down and that Mr Owens’ behaviour meant she could no longer be expected to live with him. Mr Owens continues to contest the divorce.
The case is seen as particularly unusual, as in most cases neither party will contest the divorce.
Five Supreme Court judges will decide whether Mrs Owens will be allowed to divorce - after lower courts decided she was not entitled to one. They will deliver their judgment later this year.
The high profile case has reignited calls for the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce in England and Wales and Resolution - an organisation of family law professionals, which is campaigning for the introduction of 'no fault' divorce - have been given permission to intervene in the dispute and are being heard alongside the couple.
Amanda Rimmer, a specialist divorce solicitor at the national law firm, Stephensons, said: “All in all, this is a very sorry state of affairs for both parties. Any legal battle of this duration is likely to have a significant emotional impact, but when it concerns the breakdown of a marriage and relationship this can only be even more pronounced.
“There can be no doubt that the root of this sorry saga lies with our outdated divorce laws which are in real need of reform. Had a ‘no fault’ route been available to Mr and Mrs Owens, the marriage might have been allowed to end with greater dignity and without the need for a costly and confrontational legal process.
“Nevertheless, I find it hard to understand how the two parties and their legal representatives have failed to come to an agreement, using the current divorce laws, after so long.”