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Tini Owens wants to divorce her husband of 40 years, Hugh Owens, citing unreasonable behaviour and claiming their marriage has broken down.

Tini Owens, 68, filed for divorce from her husband Hugh Owens, 80, in May 2015 after moving out of their shared home.

Under the current law in England and Wales, unless people can prove their marriage has broken down due to adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, the only way to obtain a divorce without a spouse's consent is to live apart for five years.

At issue was a portion of the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973, which says that courts can not grant a quick divorce unless a husband or wife cites adultery, "unreasonable behaviour" or desertion as the reason for the divorce.

Two years ago a Family Court judge rejected Mrs Owens' allegations and refused to grant her a divorce.

One judge said she had reached her conclusion with "no enthusiasm whatsoever" but that it was for parliament to decide whether to introduce "no fault" divorce on demand. In their decision, they said that she had failed to establish that their marriage had irretrievably broken down.

"It is likely that significant numbers of married observers of non-Judeo- Christian faiths are also in a similar position to members of the Muslim community", she said.

This is despite pleas by Mrs Owens that the current state of the law is out of touch with changing social values.

Image Credit Wu Jianxiong  Unsplash
Image Credit Wu Jianxiong Unsplash

Past year three appeal judges ruled against dismissed Mrs Owens' challenge to that decision after a Court of Appeal hearing in London. The outcome of this judgment is that Courts, lawyers and divorcing couples must ensure that a Petitioner's case contains adequate particulars of behaviour by which it can be said that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent. But Mr Owens refuses to agree to a divorce and denies Ms Owens's allegations about his behaviour.

She said he had behaved unreasonably and said she should not reasonably be expected to stay married.

The pair married in 1978 and lived in Broadway, Worcestershire, judges heard.

Another said Parliament had "decreed" that being in a "wretchedly unhappy marriage" was not a ground for divorce. They say the case is about "proper interpretation" of legislation.

Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, said while she found the case "very troubling" it was not for judges to "change the law".

She said she had been "reluctantly persuaded" that Tini's appeal should be dismissed.

Lady Hale, in particular, felt that those case-management decisions, in which both parties and the judge had been involved, amounted to "mistakes". The Supreme Court upheld - in a unanimous verdict 5-0 - the earlier courts decisions that the wife would not be granted a divorce despite an unhappy relationship. In 2016 there were more than 100,000 divorces in England and Wales.

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