Family law charity Resolution has responded to the Court of Appeal’s “no-fault” divorce judgment in Owens v Owens, a case which sparked mass controversy last year.
In 2016, a Family Court refused to grant “desperately unhappy” Tini Owens a divorce from her husband, Hugh Owens, who argued that their 39-year marriage had not broken down irretrievably.
The Court of Appeal denied her the opportunity to appeal the decision. It effectively means that the pair must remain married.
Nigel Shepherd, chair of Resolution, argued that nobody should be compelled to remain in a marriage against their will, prompting a new call for the reform of “no-fault” divorce.
“Sadly, all too often, couples are forced to play the blame game, and today’s decision demonstrates why this needs to change.
“As the President of the Family Division rightly asks in the judgment, ‘ought the decision whether or not a marriage should be dissolved to be one for the parties which the State is not in a position to question?’
“The simple fact is, this case should not have been necessary. Only by implementing a no-fault divorce system can we ensure such a situation doesn’t happen again.
“This is why we are today repeating our call on the Government to change the law and introduce no-fault divorce. The reasons for marriages breaking down are often complex and rarely will both spouses agree on them.
“No-fault divorce is widely supported. 69% of the public want to remove blame, as do – among others – Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division; Sir Paul Coleridge, chairman of the Marriage Foundation; and Lord Wilson of Culworth, a Supreme Court judge.”
Mrs Owens says that she intends to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.