Our Family department comments on the Owens v Owens case.
Although the judgment will have to be unpicked over the coming days and weeks, essentially the Judges have been satisfied that the law has been applied correctly. Allowing someone to remain married, when their spouse clearly wants the marriage to end, seems like something out of The Handmaid’s Tale. However, the fact is that the Judges’ hands are tied by the law as made by Parliament.
If some good is to come from this case, it will be in pushing forward the no fault divorce debate. What is needed is a fundamental change in how couples prove their marriage has come to an end, to remove the need for there to be an “offending” party.
It’s no secret that divorces are best managed when the separating couple co-operate with each other. However, the current divorce process requires one person to list examples of the spouse’s unreasonable behaviour during the marriage. This is clearly not conducive to creating an environment in which the separating couple can calmly and sensibly figure out how to move on with their lives.