Family Court Refuses to Grant a 66 Year-old Woman a Divorce

In the new AQA GCSE for Religious Studies students need to know about divorce. In the UK there is only one legal ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The person who starts proceedings, (called the Petitioner) must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of the following five facts:

  • Adultery (spouse has had sex with another person)
  • Unreasonable behaviour (see below)
  • Desertion (spouse has completely left you for 2 years or more which rarely gets used in divorce proceedings)
  • 2 years separation with consent (you and your spouse both agree to a divorce)
  • 5 years separation with no consent required (you or your spouse might not agree to divorce though you do have to be living apart for this)

Out of these five the most common fact on which to prove the ground for divorce in England and Wales is Unreasonable behaviour. For this you’ve got to show that your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. If the allegations are particularly serious, e.g. violence, then one or two allegations might be enough. If the allegations are relatively mild, for example, carelessness with money or devoting too much time towards a career, then you might need five or six allegations.

Well, Tini Owens was refused a divorce from her husband Hugh Owens in the family court and so has now taken her case to the Court of Appeal. One of the three Appeal judges who is hearing her case, Sir James, said the judges would examine legislation laid down by Parliament and told lawyers: “It is not a ground for divorce if you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage – people may say it should be.”

In the first failed effort at getting a divorce Ms Owens had made 27 allegations about the way Mr Owens treated her, including that he was “insensitive” in his “manner and tone” and said she was “constantly mistrusted” and felt unloved. “The simple fact is that I have been desperately unhappy in our marriage for many years,” she said in a witness statement. “There is no prospect of reconciliation.” The judge though failed to see this as unreasonable behaviour.

What do Christians and Muslims say about divorce?




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