Last week the Appeal Court considered an appeal from Tini Owens whose divorce petition had been rejected by a Judge. Tini had claimed that the behaviour of her husband of almost 40 years was unreasonable and gave examples in her petition. However, the Judge considering the petition concluded that Tini’s allegations were “of the kind to be expected in marriage” and refused to give her a divorce. A decision from the Court of Appeal is now awaited.
In the same week and despite extensive lobbying from family lawyers, the Government declined calls to make any changes to the existing law on divorce which requires a couple to rely on a fault-based divorce in the first two years after they separate.
A spokesperson said the Government was committed to improving the family justice system so that separating couples can “achieve the best possible outcomes for themselves and their families”. However, this is out of step with its decision not to change the existing, fault-based divorce. It will be a blow for many separating couples who recognise that their marriages have broken down and simply want to divorce in a civilised way whilst doing their best to remain on good terms for the sake of their children.
We remain stuck with an antiquated law which does not allow for no-fault divorce. A couple who wish to divorce within the first 2 years of separating must instead rely on adultery or unreasonable behaviour to demonstrate that their marriage has broken down and cannot be saved. If that is not an option, after they have been separated for at least 2 years they can divorce on the grounds of their separation but until then, they cannot finalise their finances. There must be a better way.