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Will Mrs Owens be forced to remain in an unhappy marriage?

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Renewed pressure has been put on the legal system to reform family law and introduce a “no-fault” based divorce system.

The Hearing for high profile divorce case Owens v Owens was heard before the Supreme Court on 17th May 2018.

Mr and Mrs Owens were married in 1978 and separated in February 2015. Mrs Owens filed for divorce based on Mr Owens’s unreasonable behaviour. Mr Owens defended the application saying that the examples given were insufficient to justify a divorce; he dismissed the divorce petition. The courts agreed. Mrs Owens appealed the judgement. 

Supreme Court president, Lady Hale has said this case is a 'rare example of the court rejecting a behaviour petition on the ground that the husband's behaviour was not objectively bad enough to make it unreasonable for the wife to live with him'.

Our current divorce system still requires blame to be apportioned to one party in order to be successful. If final judgement does not fall in Mrs Owens’s favour, she will have to wait until February 2020 to file for divorce on the basis of 5 years separation and will be forced to remain in an unhappy marriage for just under 2 years. 

If you need advice in relation to separation, divorce or financial settlement and would like to discuss how we can help you, please contact Kathryn Moggs in BakerLaw’s Family department at or call 01252 730758.


This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.