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Supreme Court denies appeal in Owens v Owens case

Jul 25th, 2018

Emma Lawler, Partner

The much anticipated decision in the Owens v Owens case has today reached its conclusion, with the Supreme Court dismissing Tini Owens’ plea against an order issued by the of the Court of Appeal, resulting in the overall dismissal of her petition for divorce.

The case, which has garnered nationwide attention, hinges on the inflexible and outdated issues relating to  the divorce process itself. The process has again highlighted the problem of ‘fault based divorces’ in which one party is required to blame the other’s “unreasonable behaviour” or wait for their spouse to agree to a divorce after a separation period of 2 years, or if they won’t agree, wait until they have been separated 5 years.

Tini Owens, who claims to be living in an unhappy marriage, appealed to be able to divorce her husband on the grounds of his behaviour, which he contested. Unusually, the judge felt there was not enough evidence to justify a divorce. Seeking to overturn this ruling, Mrs Owens went to the Court of Appeal but it was again upheld leaving her no option but to proceed to the Supreme Court.

With the final decision delivered today, Mrs Owens has now exhausted all routes of appeal, essentially leaving her locked in her unhappy marriage until 2020, having borne extensive legal fees and suffered through an exhausting process all in a bid to be able to move on with her life.

What does the decision mean for Divorce Law?

Essentially, today’s decision means that for now, nothing will change. We are mired in an outdated system when it comes to divorce law and this needs to be reconsidered if it is to reflect society’s changes.

Resolution, the Family Law organisation has been championing the ‘No Fault Divorce’  and was joined as a party in the case. It looks as though, in light of the Supreme Court’s Decision, there is still a long way to go to bring long needed reform to the family courts on this issue.

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Emma Lawler


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