Divorce news - Owen v Owen case is given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court

Friday 18th August 2017

So the question this poses is “Is it time for a change to the divorce law in England and Wales to enable a no fault Divorce?”

This is a significant case that will have a real impact on the advice given to Divorcing Parties by solicitors.

For many years it has been regarded as good practice among family lawyers to draft divorce petitions for unreasonable behaviour in a way that whilst identifying some of the problems leading to the breakdown of the relationship, will not add to the pain and aggravation of the process for those involved. Wherever possible a draft is sent to the other party and the allegations of unreasonable behaviour are amended to reach a consensus that is acceptable to both.

This practice is threatened by this case, where the court have held that the allegations made are not sufficiently serious to satisfy the court that the behaviour of the respondent was so serious that the petitioner could no longer be expected to live with him, which is essentially what is required to be proved to the court in respect of unreasonable behaviour. So the divorce petition was dismissed.

The view taken by the district court , and upheld by the court of appeal, was essentially that a no fault divorce does not exist in law and was not what Parliament intended. The Wife has now been given leave to appeal to the Supreme court.

If the decision of the lower courts is upheld, it will undoubtedly lead to pressure for new law. Watch this space!