The Supreme Court will soon be asked to consider the ground of unreasonable behaviour in a divorce having given permission to appeal to Mrs Owens, a lady seeking divorce from her husband.
Mrs Owens filed a petition for divorce in May 2015 contending that her marriage had irretrievably broken down. Her husband defended the case and argued that the examples given of his behaviour were not bad enough to satisfy the legal threshold.
The divorce petition was denied by the court at first instance and by the Court of Appeal who agreed with Mr Owens that the behaviour alleged did not pass the legal test.
The Supreme Court will now reconsider the decisions of the earlier courts to rule on whether the behaviour alleged is enough to justify a divorce and, it is anticipated, may provide commentary on the appropriateness of the requirement to show of 'unreasonable behaviour' in the legislation.
This ruling will sit within the context of a growing consensus that divorce law is in need of reform and should be changed to allow a divorce without alleging fault.
Resolution, an organisation representing family lawyers, is leading this campaign for reform and will be involved in the case.
Mrs Owens’ case highlights why divorce law in the UK needs to change. We need to reduce conflict and support separating couples to resolve matters amicably, rather than forcing them to play a blame game where one or both of them thinks the marriage is over. The simple fact is that this case should not have been necessary, and only by implementing a no-fault divorce system can we ensure such a situation doesn’t happen again.