Divorce law needs ‘urgent change’ in light of Owens vs Owens
With the rare ruling in the divorce of Owens vs Owens, Samantha Lee provides her opinion on the case:
“There has been so much incorrect reporting of this case. The Supreme Court had to apply the law as it currently stands.
Mrs Owens started proceedings based on her husband’s unreasonable behaviour.
Over the years solicitors have advised clients to water down allegations of unreasonable behaviour.
This is to avoid unnecessarily enflaming of the situation between the divorcing parties. Particularly relevant when there are issues of children and finances which need resolving.
I can count on one hand the number of times I have been involved in a defended divorce in the 20 plus years I have been working as a family law solicitor.
This is therefore a very unusual case.
Mr Owens denied that his behaviour had been unreasonable within the definition of the Matrimonial Causes Act. The Judges of the Supreme Court had no choice but to agree.
These Judges cannot change the law; that is the job of the Government.
This case highlights the urgent need for the Government to reform divorce law and introduce a no fault divorce.
The law governing divorce is now 40 years out of date and the world has moved on.
Us family lawyers are doing our utmost to ensure matters are resolved with as little difficulty as possible. Mediation is growing in popularity as a much better way to resolve issues from the breakdown of the marriage to avoid costs and acrimony.
The fact that one party then has to blame the other for the separation is massively disruptive.
It remains to be seen whether locally our Judges will take a stronger line as to what constitutes unreasonable behaviour. But, it does demonstrate the urgent need for a change in the law.”