It’s going to be an important week for family law in England and Wales this week. Following our previous blog on “the blame game in divorce”, on Thursday Mrs Owens faces the Supreme Court in her battle to challenge the previous judges who refused to allow her to divorce her husband on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour.

Under the legal system in England and Wales there is only one ground for divorce which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. To be able to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down one of the parties in the marriage would have to establish one of five facts.

These facts include desertion, separation for 2 years with consent (which Mrs Owens was not able to use as Mr Owen refused to consent), or separation for 5 years with consent. The remaining facts are adultery and unreasonable behaviour. To rely on adultery it is necessary to either obtain the agreement of your spouse that he/she has committed adultery or have proof of adultery which is difficult to establish. Mrs Owens was then left with no choice but to rely on her husband’s unreasonable behaviour. The problem she has been faced with is not only the requirement to blame someone in order to satisfy this ground, but that this is subjective and down to the judge to decide whether it is unreasonable.

There are a number of nationwide campaigns pressing for the law to be changed to reflect modern day realities and the need to move towards a no fault divorce system removing the need for this blame game. Feel free to join the discussion with Resolution’s campaign Thunderclap – you can also join the conversation on social media, using the hashtag #NoFaultDivorce or #ABetterWay.

The courts are now to decide what classes as unreasonable behavior and determine whether Mrs Owen is left locked in her marriage and she has to wait 5 years. Watch this space!

If you require advice or assistance in relation to any of these issues or other family law matters at Jordans Solicitors we have a dedicated family law team who can help. Please dial 01924 387 110 and ask to speak with a member of the family law team or visit our website and request a call back.


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