A Valentine's Court Appearance and the Concept of a No-Fault Divorce
The press has reported on a rather unusual case which started in the Court of Appeal on February 14th. Tini Owens has been married to her husband Hugh for almost 40 years but issued divorce proceedings last year, on the basis that her marriage had irretrievably broken down.
Mr Owens disagreed- and so did the local Family Court judge, who refused to grant her application. Despite Mrs Owens stating her husband has subjected her to ‘continued beratement,’ he denies all allegations and feels that they have a number of years of marriage still to enjoy, a sentiment seemingly supported by the local judge.
The Court of Appeal will deliver their decision in due course, but in the meantime the case raises the issue of the ‘no-fault divorce’ once again. The concept does exactly what it says on the tin- allowing a couple to divorce without them having to apportion blame.
The Family Law Act 1996 actually includes a section relating to no- fault divorce, but this part of the legislation has never been formally brought into force. Many family lawyers feel that this is a great shame, as it could help to reduce the stress of divorce proceedings quite substantially for many families, especially if there are children involved.
It remains to be seen whether the Court of Appeal will rule in Mrs Owens' favour, or if its judgment will discuss no-fault divorce in any way. If it does, it could pave the way for a watershed moment in this area of law at last.
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