Rely on the most comprehensive, up-to-date legal content designed and curated by lawyers for lawyers
Work faster and smarter to improve your drafting productivity without increasing risk
Accelerate the creation and use of high quality and trusted legal documents and forms
Streamline how you manage your legal business with proven tools and processes
Manage risk and compliance in your organisation to reduce your risk profile
Stay up to date and informed with insights from our trusted experts, news and information sources
Access the best content in the industry, effortlessly — confident that your news is trustworthy and up to date.
With over 30 practice areas, we have all bases covered. Find out how we can help
Our trusted tax intelligence solutions, highly-regarded exam training and education materials help guide and tutor Tax professionals
Regulatory, business information and analytics solutions that help professionals make better decisions
A leading provider of software platforms for professional services firms
In-depth analysis, commentary and practical information to help you protect your business
LexisNexis Blogs shed light on topics affecting the legal profession and the issues you're facing
Legal professionals trust us to help navigate change. Find out how we help ensure they exceed expectations
Lex Chat is a LexisNexis current affairs podcast sharing insights on topics for the legal profession
Printer Friendly Version
Mr and Mrs Owens married in 1978 and had two adult children. In February 2015 they separated. In May 2015, Mrs Owens filed a petition for divorce on the ground that the marriage had broken down irretrievably and alleging that Mr Owens had behaved in such a way that she could not reasonably be expected to live with him. At first instance, the judge held that the allegations of alleged unreasonable behaviour were, at best, flimsy, and further that Mrs Owens had exaggerated the context and seriousness of the allegations to a significant extent. The judge dismissed the petition on the basis that Mrs Owens had failed to prove, within the meaning of section 1(2)(b) of the Matrimonial Cases Act 1973, that Mr Owens had behaved in such a way that she could not reasonably be expected to live with him.
Mrs Owens appealed to the Court of Appeal, inviting the court to consider what level of fault had to be established to obtain a divorce and whether greater weight ought to be given to the wishes and feelings of a petitioner. Her appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal for reasons that included that the judge had applied the law correctly and on the evidence before him, and he was entitled to reach the conclusions that he did and he provided good reasons for them.
The wife appealed to the Supreme Court which dismissed her appeal.
The Supreme court may have dismissed Mrs Owens’ appeal by a narrow margin, but this remains a seminal case, raising a question for parliament on whether the law on fault-based divorce, which has been in place for nearly 50 years, remains ‘satisfactory’.
England and Wales trail other countries, such as Australia, Canada, Spain and Sweden, who have introduced no fault divorce, in many cases decades ago. Lord Wilson, who gave the leading judgment, was pertinent in his comments, noting the Supreme Court’s concerns over evidence, but also whether the current law properly reflects evolved social views.
The media focus is often on the divorce suit, which can be highly contentious in fault-based divorce, potentially damaging relationships and impacting children. But for many couples who chose to separate, divorce can be an amicable administrative process.
Cuts to legal aid, court closures and budget cuts have all placed additional pressures on the family justice system. More people than ever are representing themselves, and delays in the amount of time that the courts now take to process paperwork also increase the stress on divorcing couples. The law needs to be clear and aimed at reducing conflict rather than increasing it, so that families can focus on more important issues.
0330 161 1234