A woman who wants to divorce her husband of 40 years because she says their marriage is unhappy has lost her case. Supreme court judges “reluctantly” told her she must remain his wife, because a joyless marriage is not adequate grounds for a divorce if one spouse refuses to agree.
Five judges at the UK’s highest court unanimously upheld rulings by a family court and the court of appeal that Tini Owens, 68, must stay married to Hugh Owens, 80, despite her complaint that the marriage was loveless and had broken down.
Tini’s case has thrust the country’s lack of provision for no-fault divorce into the spotlight. Even spouses mutually seeking to end a marriage must, unless they have been living apart, assign blame and make often damaging allegations that lawyers say inflame potentially amicable proceedings.
Tini petitioned for divorce, alleging that her husband had prioritised his work over their home life, his treatment of her lacked love and affection, he was often moody and argumentative, he had disparaged her in front of others, and that she had grown apart from him.
In an initial hearing in October 2015, a judge allowed Tini to expand her grounds for divorce to 27 examples. But he nevertheless dismissed her petition, ruling that her case was flimsy and exaggerated. The judge said that while Hugh was “somewhat old-school”, Tini was more sensitive than most wives.