Tini Owens must remain in unhappy marriage, Supreme Court rules

Long wait Tini Owens

Long wait Tini Owens

The effect of those decisions was that the case was allocated only one day of court time, no evidence was filed by witnesses, who could testify to the effect of Mr Owens' alleged behaviour, and Mrs Owens was cross-examined on only four of the 27 allegations she made.

He summarised the current position, which blends objective and subjective elements: a petitioner must demonstrate that a reasonable person would conclude that this particular respondent has behaved in a way that this particular petitioner can not reasonably be expected to live with the respondent, taking into account all of the circumstances and the history of the marriage. But Mr Owens refuses to divorce her, denying his wife's allegations about his behaviour.

She lives in a house the couple own next door to the marital home in Broadway, Worcestershire.

The justices analysed the rival legal arguments, which revolved around concepts of "unreasonable" behaviour and "fault", at a hearing in London in May.

Lord Wilson, with whom Lord Hodge and Lady Black agreed, said "there was no denying that Mrs Owens's appeal generates uneasy feelings".

He said the "question for Parliament" was whether the law governing "entitlement to divorce" remained "satisfactory". She must now wait until 2020 for the marriage to end on the grounds that they will have been separated for five years.

Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, said while she found the case "very troubling" it was not for judges to "change the law". At the outside he hoped that there could be a reconciliation with his wife.

Mrs Owens may have the resources to cope.

Wealthy Hugh Owens
Wealthy Hugh Owens

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 worldwide barometer report). They were backed by a number of legal heavyweights.

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.

Another said Parliament had "decreed" that being in a "wretchedly unhappy marriage" was not a ground for divorce.

The case was about the proper interpretation of legislation, they said.

Her lawyers said she shouldn't have had to prove that Hugh's behavior was "unreasonable" - and asked for a "modest shift" in interpreting the law. The marriage is over as the Court of Appeal found but Mrs Owens can not get divorced.

"Till death do us part" may have sounded good to Tini Owens in 1978, but the British woman changed her mind on that timeline years ago and has been vying to end what she calls a "loveless", deteriorated marriage. An incomprehensible idea in the 21st century and unreasonably paternalistic. Rather, the intention of Contracting Parties was to expressly exclude the right to a divorce (leaving this to a matter of states' national laws).

"Divorce can be a painful, drawn out experience".

In her initial divorce proceeding, Tini lodged 27 allegations about the way Hugh mistreated her, including speaking to her in an "insensitive" way and constantly mistrusting her, the BBC reported previous year.

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