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Owens v Owens: What is considered Unreasonable Behaviour?

Published on 2 October 2017 | Modified on 15 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett
unreasonable behaviour

A wife who was refused permission to divorce her husband takes her case to the Supreme Court.

Few people realise that there is no such thing as a “no fault divorce” in the UK.  To be able to obtain a divorce shortly after separation one party must allege that the other party is to blame. Often the parties will cite “unreasonable behaviour” as the reason for the divorce.  Parties can be caused a great deal of difficulties when they are trying to deal with matters amicably, especially when there are children involved.  Making allegations that one party to the marriage was responsible for the breakdown can test even the most good-natured people.

Tini Owens case has highlighted this as a problem.  Mrs Owens’ case has been considered by the Court of Appeal and she has now been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Mrs Owens petitioned for divorce on the basis of her husband’s unreasonable behaviour.  She was refused her request as the Judge indicated that the facts relied upon were “minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage”.

Loveless Marriage – Unreasonable Behaviour?

This left Mrs Owens trapped in a marriage she no longer wants, where she reports feeling unloved, isolated and alone.  The case is now progressing to the highest court in the UK and highlights the need for careful consideration when preparing a divorce petition.

The government has recently made changes to the divorce documents to try and assist people representing themselves.  However, this case emphasises the need for careful drafting, even when it might seem there is a clear-cut need for divorce.

Early specialist advice essential

Although only a small proportion of cases are defended the cost involved can be significant. Obtaining specialist legal advice from the outset can help minimise risk and costs in the long run.  There is no set formula for drafting a divorce petition. What happens after can often be complicated and have far reaching implications. Until laws are made to allow “no fault divorces” it is recommended that advice is sought at the earliest opportunity.

If you are considering separating or progressing divorce proceedings our specialist lawyers can discuss your options. We offer a free initial consultation on a no obligation basis. Complete the form linked here and we will call you back. For further information, see our family services & divorce.

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