English court rules woman must stay in ‘loveless’ marriage

Tini Owens loses Supreme Court divorce fight

Five justices ruled that Tini Owens must remain married to Hugh Owens. He has objected to the divorce and denied his wife's allegations about his behavior.

While, Supreme Court president Lady Hale called the case "very troubling" but says it's not for judges to change the law, simply to uphold it.

It is rare for spouses to defend a petition for a divorce, but legislation makes it hard for even mutual divorces when, in the absence of a period living apart, one party must provide evidence of unreasonable behaviour or adultery before the marriage can be ended. Without Hugh's consent to divorce, her only recourse is to stay married to him until 2020, five years after leaving their family home.

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

The couple married in 1978 and have two children. Tini petitioned for divorce in 2015 after moving out. Two years ago, a family court judge refused the divorce and rejected her allegations, describing them as "flimsy and exaggerated", Sky News reported.

Another said Parliament had "decreed" that being in a "wretchedly unhappy marriage" was not a ground for divorce. In their decision, they said that she had failed to establish that their marriage had irretrievably broken down.

The Supreme Court's decision today also means that getting divorced in England and Wales will remain, in principle, more complex than in dozens of other jurisdictions, including Chile, China and Russian Federation where "no fault" divorce exists (for more detail see Penningtons Manches' recent global barometer report).

More news: Pakistan election rigged in Imran Khan's favour, claims opponent

Mrs Owens' solicitor said she was "devastated" by the decision and "cannot move forward with her life".

Resolution, an organisation that represents 6,500 lawyers working in family law and supports the introduction of no-fault divorce, said the judgment confirmed there was a "divorce crisis" in England and Wales.

The court's decision angered a number of legal experts who claim the law is out of date and in desperate need of changing.

Hugh Owens refuses to divorce his unhappy wife, Tini. In particular, she felt that "this was a case which depended upon the cumulative effect of a great many small incidents said to be indicative of authoritarian, demeaning and humiliating conduct over a period of time" (paragraph 50), and that the hearing "was not set up or conducted in a way which would enable the full flavour of such conduct to be properly evaluated".

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.

She said she had been "reluctantly persuaded" that Tini's appeal should be dismissed. Currently, couples have to apportion blame when citing unreasonable behaviour as grounds for divorce and this causes a huge amount of stress and strain on individuals and their families.

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