Locked in to Marriage

Locked in to Marriage
June 29, 2017 Andrew Hunt

In a landmark ruling last year, Judge Robin Tolson QC rejected the petition of Tini Owens, 65, summarising that her husband’s continual berating of her had not been unreasonable. Mrs Owens believed that she had grounds for divorce based upon her feeling unloved, isolated, alone and locked into a loveless and desperately unhappy 37 year old marriage. This was due to her husband’s treatment of her after it was revealed that in 2012 Mrs Owens had a 10 month relationship with another man. The couple had been living apart since February 2015.  Hugh Owens, 13 years her senior, explained that he had moved on and forgiven his wife for her inappropriate behavior and insisted that they “still have a few years of old age together”.

The Court of Appeal in March 2017 rejected an Appeal made by Mrs Owens who had asked the Court to consider again an earlier decision to refuse her Application for a Decree Nisi because allegations of unreasonable behaviour were described by the Court as being “of the kind of thing to be expected in marriage”. Finding that Mrs Owens “had exaggerated the seriousness of the allegations to a significant degree” The case is the subject of a further Appeal.

In her defence, Philip Marshall QC told the court that it was unfair that Mrs Owens was  now a “locked in” wife and could not get divorced unless her millionaire businessman husband changes his mind. He went on to explain that it was unfair that a 65-year-old wife must separate from her husband and wait for a significant number of years before being permitted to divorce without the consent of her husband. If Mrs Owen waits until February 2020, assuming that she and her husband are still alive, she will, seemingly, be able to petition after five years’ continuous separation.

The case however brings into focus the need to carefully draft a Petition for Divorce, particularly those based upon unreasonable behaviour. Enoch Evans LLP follows the Law Society’s Family Law Protocol and the Resolution Code of Practice in promoting a non-confrontational and constructive way of dealing with divorce where possible, whilst always acting in a client’s best interest.  Please contact a member of our Family Team for further advice on this area.

We will provide updates as this issue develops.