Divorce – It’s not always Straightforward

Under English and Welsh Law, there are five grounds for divorce:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Five years separation without consent
  • You must show within a divorce petition that due to one of these grounds, your marriage has broken down irretrievably (you can read more on the process here).

    The recent Court of Appeal case of Owens v Owens saw the Judge agree with the ruling in the Family Court that Mrs Owens would not be entitled to a divorce. Despite being in a “loveless and desperately unhappy” marriage, her husband being “insensitive” towards her in “manner and tone”, and being made to feel “mistrusted” and “unloved”, Mr Owens disagreed with his wife’s observations, insisting they had a “few years” to enjoy together.

    The Judge in the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Judge in the Family Court. They had ruled that the complaints Mrs Owens put forward were “of the kind to be expected in marriage”, and were not enough to show that the marriage had broken down irretrievably.

    Mrs Owens reported that she feels as though she has been left in a “wretched predicament”. As her husband insisted they still had a “few years” to enjoy together, it is unlikely that he will consent to a divorce on the grounds of a two-year separation. This means Mrs Owens will have to wait for five years to lapse before she is able to petition for divorce without her husband’s consent.

    While not every jurisdiction operates on a fault basis for divorce, the law of England and Wales means that we are still left with cases like this where one party is trapped in an unhappy marriage. In order to try and eradicate instances such as this, it is imperative to provide strong examples of the grounds you seek to rely on for divorce within your petition, particularly in cases where the grounds for divorce are unreasonable behaviour. For this reason, it is a good idea to turn to a solicitor. Their experience in completing divorce petitions will ensure the best chance of success of your own petition.

    If you would like advice on the divorce process or would like to instruct one of our solicitors to guide you through the process, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.