Supreme Court rules that ‘unhappy marriage’ is not grounds for divorce

The Supreme Court has recently ruled in the case of Tini Owens, who, after 40 years of marriage, wanted to divorce from her husband on the grounds that the marriage was an unhappy one for her. The Supreme Court ruled that an ‘unhappy marriage’ is not grounds for divorce and they have effectively stated that the matter needs to be legislated upon as it is not for the courts to alter the grounds for divorce, merely to interpret and apply them.

Mrs Owens had initiated the divorce proceedings but her husband had refused to consent to the divorce. Lord Wilson noted in his judgment that Mrs Owens would be able to divorce in 2020, when the couple will have been separated for five years and she will be eligible for a divorce without consent or evidence of fault. However, at this stage it is not within the court’s powers to grant ‘no fault divorces. For further information on this story click here.

The case has raised the issue of ‘no fault divorces’ again and whether or not the current law relating to divorce is fit for modern society. It is possible that divorce petitions will see embellished reasons for filing for divorce in order to avoid the divorce not being granted unless Parliament decides to legislate on the issue. Given the limited legislative timetable and the precarious position the government finds itself in, it is unlikely, in the short term at least, that the law in this area is going to be reformed any time soon.

Divorce and the ensuing financial issues, can be a complicated area to navigate and whilst it is possible to deal with a divorce without legal representation, it is not advisable. If you need advice about divorce or other family law issues, please contact Alexandra Kenyon by emailing her or call our offices on 01695 574 201.