'Unhappily' married woman denied a divorce by UK Supreme Court

Tini Owens

Tini Owens

Tini Owens, 68, is fighting get divorced from her husband, High Owens, 60.

An "unhappy" British woman who wants to divorce her husband of 40 years has lost a Supreme Court appeal.

Five justices upheld rulings by a family court and the court of appeal that Tini Owens must stay married to Hugh Owens.

Hugh denied the allegations about his behaviour, and while admitting that their relationship had never been - in the paraphrase of Lord Wilson - emotionally intense, he said the couple had learned to "rub along".

The Supreme Court refused to grant the divorce saying they are not "able to change the law", Sky News reported.

Critics say English divorce laws need to be overhauled because a person cannot divorce without a spouse's consent unless they can prove adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

Past year the Court of Appeal in London upheld that ruling, and five Supreme Court justices have now also ruled against her.

Tini Owens' attorney, Simon Beccle, says the public would find the judgment "hard to understand".

Mishcon de Reya family lawyer Antonia Felix said it was inevitable that the decision would offer support to pressure groups who have lobbied for changes in divorce law.

"Were Mrs Owens to continue to live apart from her husband until 2020, "he would surely have no defence to a petition" on the basis that they will have lived apart for five years", Wilson said.

Tini and Hugh Owens married in 1978, lived together in Broadway, Worcestershire, and have two grownup children.

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Mrs Owens, who is in her late 60s, wants a divorce and says her marriage to Mr Owens, who is in his 80s, is loveless and has broken down.

He says if their marriage has irretrievably broken down it is because she had an affair, or because she is "bored".

She alleged the marriage had broken down irretrievably and Mr Owens had behaved in such a way that she could not reasonably be expected to live with him.

Mrs Owens had already lost two rounds of the battle.

Family law experts say the ruling shows there is a "divorce crisis" and called for the introduction of "no fault" splits.

Mrs Owens' lawyers say she should not have to prove that Mr Owens' behaviour has been "unreasonable" - only that she should not "reasonably be expected" to remain with him.

Attorneys suggest lawmakers will now consider "no fault" divorce.

"This was a case which depended upon the cumulative effect of a great many small incidents said to be indicative of authoritarian, demeaning and humiliating conduct over a period of time", Hale wrote.

She said she had been "reluctantly persuaded" that the appeal should be dismissed.

Barrister Philip Marshall QC, who leads Mrs Owens" legal team, told Supreme Court justices that a "modest shift' of focus in interpretation of legislation was required.

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