Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Woman waits to see whether she has won 'unusual' divorce court fight

A 66-year-old woman who wants to divorce her husband of nearly 40 years is waiting to see whether she has won an "extraordinarily unusual" Valentine's Day court fight.

Tini Owens has failed to persuade a family court judge to allow her to divorce husband Hugh Owens, 78.

Judge Robin Tolson published a ruling last year in which he refused to grant Mrs Owens's divorce petition.

Now Mrs Owens has asked Court of Appeal judges to overturn that decision.

Three appeal judges - led by Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales - analysed the case at a hearing in London on Tuesday and are expected to publish a ruling soon.

A barrister representing Mrs Owens told the appeal court that the "vast majority" of divorces were undefended in 21st century England.

Philip Marshall QC added: "It is extraordinarily unusual in modern times for a court to dismiss a petition for divorce."

Appeal judges were told the couple had married in 1978 and lived in Broadway, Worcester.

Mr Marshall said Mrs Owens's case was that her husband had behaved unreasonably and that the marriage had irretrievably broken down.

Mr Owens, a retired businessman, disagreed and denied allegations made against him.

He was against a divorce and said they still had a "few years" to enjoy, Mr Marshall told appeal judges.

Judge Tolson had ruled against Mrs Owens after analysing the case at a family court hearing in London.

He had concluded that her allegations were "of the kind to be expected in marriage" and refused to grant a divorce petition.

Mr Marshall said Judge Tolson had failed to make "proper findings of fact" and argued that his ruling should be overturned.

Mrs Owens had made 27 allegations about the way Mr Owens treated her.

She said he was "insensitive" in his "manner and tone" and said she was "constantly mistrusted" and felt unloved.

"The simple fact is that I have been desperately unhappy in our marriage for many years," she said in a witness statement.

"There is no prospect of reconciliation."

Mr Marshall said judges had to consider the "cumulative effect" of what might be classed as a long list of trivial matters.

"It was my client's complaint that her husband treated her in a childlike way," Mr Marshall told judges.

"And in a way which was effectively that she should agree with his will."

He said she had been asked to help the housekeeper pick up pieces of cardboard which had blown over a lawn, been "snapped at" in an airport queue and been subjected to "stinging remarks" in a restaurant.

Mr Marshall added: "They lived all of their lives in a traditional and old-fashioned way. He ran the business. She stayed at home."

Mr Owens had talked of being a tease and said he had a loud voice, judges heard.

"I am somebody who teases my wife," he had said during the litigation.

"I do it all the time. I know she doesn't always appreciate it."

He had added: "I have got a very loud voice. I talk in this way all the time."

Barrister Nigel Dyer QC, who represented Mr Owens, said appeal judges should not overturn Judge Tolson's ruling.

Mr Dyer said Mrs Owens had not established that the marriage was irretrievably broken.

He added: "At the moment, as the law stands, unhappiness, discontent, disillusionment are not facts which a petitioner can rely upon as facts which prove irretrievable breakdown."

Judges were told that at one stage Mrs Owens had an affair which lasted less than a year.

They heard that she had contacted solicitors five years ago.

Evidence showed that Mr and Mrs Owens, who have grown-up children, had slept in different rooms for many years.

Judge Tolson had described Mr Owens as "old school" and had said Mrs Owens was "more sensitive than most wives".

Sir James said the job of appeal judges was to "apply the law".

He said they would examine legislation laid down by Parliament and told lawyers: "It is not a ground for divorce if you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage - people may say it should be."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph