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How to Ensure Your Divorce is Not Refused

By Associate, Family Law

Tini Owens was not allowed to end her 37-year-long marriage to millionaire mushroom farmer Hugh last year after a Judge refused her divorce petition which she had based on his ‘unreasonable behaviour’.

In this blog, we examine why the divorce was denied and explain how you can avoid a similar situation.

Why Was The Divorce Refused?

Firstly, Mr Owens denied that the marriage had broken down. It is unusual for a spouse to take this stance and is perhaps surprising in this instance because of his wife’s affair in 2012. Mr Owens claims to have moved on and forgiven his wife for the fling.

Secondly, Mrs Owens failed to satisfy Judge Robin Tolson that the marriage had irretrievably broken down. In order to get divorced in the UK, the only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which must be proved by one of the ‘five facts’.

The fact which Mrs Owens was relying upon was unreasonable behaviour. She cited intolerable conduct from her husband in the divorce petition that included making her pick up bits of cardboard in the garden and a silent meal in a local pub along with her husband’s alleged continued beratement over her affair.

As the judge rejected the divorce he said that her claims, which also included being “desperately unhappy” in the relationship, were “to be expected in marriage” and described Mr Owen’s attitude as “old school”.

What Happens Next?

Mr Owens wants to remain married as he thinks that he and his wife “still have a few years of old age together, to enjoy 30-odd years of shared experiences”, but judgement is reserved. 

We follow this case on tenterhooks to see if despite seeking a divorce Mrs Owens is forced to remain married. 

In the event that the appeal is unsuccessful, this will mean that Mrs Owens will also be unable to make a financial claim or obtain financial independence. 

How to Avoid Your Divorce Petition Being Rejected

Before you proceed with issuing a divorce petition ensure you seek legal advice from a specialist divorce solicitor who can provide you with the options for divorce and ensure that the paperwork is drafted in a way that will satisfy the court that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

In order to prove to the court that your marriage has broken down beyond repair, you must evidence one of the five facts of divorce.

The Future

There is a current campaign by family lawyers for there to be a ‘no fault divorce’ where you would simply be able to state that a marriage is not working and you no longer wish to be married. 

However, if your spouse denied that the marriage had broken down, like Mr Owens did in this case, you may still find it difficult to obtain a divorce.

Sarah Jane Lenihan is a family lawyer at Slater and Gordon in London.

If you are considering getting divorced contact the divorce solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9055 or alternatively contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.

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