The Court of Appeal ruled that Mrs Owen would not be granted a divorce on the basis that a “wretchedly unhappy marriage” was not grounds for divorce. The court also found that the respondent husband’s behaviour amounted to “minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage”.
During this case, the court considered the history of divorce law and the continuing debate over “no-fault” divorce.
The Court concluded that “It is for Parliament to decide whether to amend the law and to introduce a “no fault” divorce on demand; it was not the judges’ role.
At present, in order to get a divorce, the Petitioner has to satisfy the court that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which must be proved by one of the following five facts:
(a) The respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent.
(b) The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
(c) The respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the start of the divorce.
(d) The parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the start of the divorce and the respondent consents to a decree being granted.
(e) The parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately before the start of the divorce.
It is therefore not possible to petition on a “No fault” divorce. It may well be that this case will prompt further calls for parliament to re-examine the current divorce law.
If you would like further advice in connection with the matters raised in this article then please contact Miss Vincent in our family department on 01926 422 101.