"At the moment, as the law stands, unhappiness, discontent, disillusionment are not facts which a petitioner can rely upon as facts which prove irretrievable breakdown."
If you’re facing the prospect of your spouse contesting a divorce, or you want to contest one yourself, call us. We offer a free 30 minute consultation at our discreet countryside offices, or via Skype if you are unable to travel or based abroad. Call us for more details.
How might this ruling affect the current campaign for no-fault divorce legislation?
At LGFL Ltd, we support the Resolution campaign for no-fault divorces. No-fault divorce would enable partners who feel their marriage has broken down, but don’t want to or cannot apportion blame, the opportunity to divorce without finding major fault with their partner. This ruling goes against the campaign, as it may encourage couples to be more acrimonious by citing stronger particulars. This is particularly damaging where there are children involved, and at LGFL Ltd we always adopt a child-focused approach.
Why might the court rule in favour of not granting the divorce?
The courts have to be seen to uphold the sanctity of marriage, and cannot appear to devalue its importance. That being said, forcing people to remain married, when one party clearly wishes to leave the marriage, seems archaic in this day and age.
Is this the only case of its kind?
While most divorces are uncontested, some do result in one partner refusing to divorce. There’s an interesting article in The Telegraph
quoting several similar cases. Journalist Alice Judge-Talbot describes her long wait for the required separation period:
“It was far from ideal: I felt angry that I was still legally tied to the person I most wanted to be separated from; stilted and unable to move on with my life.”
It’s also sad to see that refusing a divorce petition can be used as a bargaining chip, as divorcee Mark describes in the same article:
“My ex-wife was completely obstructive and refused to co-operate until I gave in to her too-high financial stipulations. My hands were tied and I had to agree, so our divorce could progress.”
What can Mrs Owens do next?
Mrs and Mr Owens have only been living apart since February 2015. She and her multimillionaire husband are financially linked, with shared assets, business interests and properties. I suspect that waiting for the required five years of separation before she can divorce him without his consent could be a very difficult time for her. One commentator has also suggested that restricting her ability to move on and find happiness with someone else may infringe her human rights.
How can LGFL help anyone caught in the same situation?
First of all, come and talk to me about your circumstances. Personally I support a no-fault divorce, but until that becomes reality, I need to work with the system that exists. This case highlights the importance of having a thoughtfully drafted petition, with the particulars worded carefully so that they satisfy a court, but at the same time not appearing antagonistic. I’m always happy to talk and I guarantee that the LGFL free no-obligation 30-minute consultation is precisely that – free and with no strings attached.