Woman ‘trapped in loveless marriage’ after judges refuse divorce, unusual ruling by court of appeal in case of 40-year marriage prompts call for parliament to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce.
A woman says she has been left trapped in a “loveless and desperately unhappy” marriage after senior judges refused to allow her to divorce her husband of 40 years on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.
The highly unusual ruling by the court of appeal triggered calls from divorce lawyers for parliament to introduce “no fault” divorce and warnings that the decision would force separating couples to make more aggressive allegations to justify marital breakdown.
Tini Owens, 66, who lives in Worcestershire, had applied to overturn a ruling by the family court that her marriage to her 78-year-old husband, Hugh, who is a retired mushroom farmer, had not broken down irretrievably despite her having an affair.
Her husband opposed her application, denying the allegations made against him. He told the hearing – held on Valentine’s Day – that he did not want to get divorced because they still had a “few years” left to enjoy.
One of the three appeal court judges, Lady Justice Hallett, said she had reached her conclusion “with no enthusiasm whatsoever”, adding: “It is for parliament to decide whether to amend [the law] and to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce on demand; it is not for the judges to usurp their function.”
The three appeal judges – Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, Hallett and Lady Justice Macur – dismissed Mrs Owens’s appeal in a ruling published on Friday.
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