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The effects of Owens v Owens: Watch this space

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Following our article, Will Mrs Owens be forced to remain in an unhappy marriage?’, the Supreme Court handed down its highly anticipated judgment in Owens v Owens where the judiciary reluctantly found that Mrs Owen’s petition for divorce, based upon her husband’s unreasonable behaviour, should be rejected.

In assessing Mrs Owen’s application, the judge considered what the reasonable observer would make of  Mrs Owen’s allegations alongside the individual circumstances of both parties. The subsequent judgement upheld previous decisions, finding that no behaviour exhibited by Mr Owens was such that Mrs Owens could not reasonably be expected to live with him.

There is no dispute as to the application of the law, however critics are dismayed by the effects of this judgment in practice. Lady Hale went so far as to say that she had found the case “very troubling” but in the same instance noting that it was not for law makers to “change the law laid down by Parliament” and instead the role of the judiciary is only to interpret and apply the law that Parliament approves.

As noted in our article, Will no fault divorce ever be a reality, a campaign to change this largely archaic ‘fault-based’ system has been ongoing, and this judgment has only brought to the forefront the reasons why.

The Ministry of Justice tweeted as follows in direct response to the judgment:

“…The current system of divorce creates unnecessary antagonism in an already difficult situation. We are already looking closely at possible reforms to the system.”

Only time will tell what changes, if any, will be made but for now Mrs Owens will remain in her marriage, however unhappy she may be.

If you need advice in relation to separation, divorce or financial settlement and would like to discuss how we can help you, please contact Kathy Moggs or Wendy Armstrong in BakerLaw’s Family department at or or call 01252 733770.