Divorce or separation can be a time of heartache and conflict, but there are occasions where couples mutually agree that their marriage is over.
Sadly however, current divorce law makes an amicable separation difficult by forcing couples to place blame on each other unless they can wait two years to process their divorce.
In March this year, the Court of Appeal dismissed Mrs Owen’s appeal in the defended divorce case, effectively declaring that she must remain married to her husband because her allegations of his unreasonable behaviour were insufficient.
Speaking immediately following the judgement, Resolution’s Chair, Nigel Shepherd, commented: “This judgment will obviously come as a disappointment to Mrs Owens, and absolutely underlines the urgent need for no-fault divorce. Nobody should be compelled to remain in a marriage against their will, yet judges’ hands are tied by the current divorce law. Sadly, all too often, couples are forced to play the blame game, and today’s decision demonstrates why this needs to change… The simple fact is, this case should not have been necessary. Only by implementing a no-fault divorce system can we ensure such a situation doesn’t happen again.”
“There is rarely one sole reason for the breakdown of a marriage, and to compel one party to effectively ‘mud sling’ in order to get a divorce cannot be appropriate in a modern society, particularly when those very people may well have to continue to co-parent young children together. Resolution encourages the parties to be amicable, whilst the law is now forcing a client who seeks a divorce without waiting to cite more detailed and specific examples of unreasonable behaviour to ensure the divorce proceeds.”
According to Resolution, the general public are supportive of the blame being removed from a divorce – an idea also supported by many senior judges.
Perhaps Mrs Owens plight of being forced to remain married is the final straw and a change in the law will follow.
For specialist advice on divorce or relationship breakdown, please do not hesitate to contact Sarah McCarthy of our Family law team on 0800 042 0700, or email us on
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