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Supreme Court rules woman in ‘loveless marriage’ cannot have a divorce and must stay married to husband

A woman who wants to divorce her husband on the grounds she is unhappy has lost her Supreme Court appeal.

Tini Owens, 68, from Worcestershire, wanted the court to grant her a divorce from her husband of 40 years Hugh, who is refusing the split. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the appeal, meaning she must remain married until 2020.
Mrs Owens’ solicitor said she was “devastated” by the decision and “cannot move forward with her life”.

Under current UK law, unless people can prove their marriage has broken down due to adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, the only way to obtain a divorce without a spouse’s consent is to live apart for five years.

The couple were married in 1978 and have two adult children. Mrs Owens said she had been contemplating a divorce since 2012, but did not leave the matrimonial home until February 2015. 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.

Mr Owens, 80, has refused to agree to a divorce and denied Mrs Owens’ allegations about his behaviour.
He said if their marriage had irretrievably broken down it was because she had an affair, or because she was “bored”.

Barrister Hamish Dunlop, who represented Mr Owens, welcomed the ruling, saying Mrs Owens “was essentially advocating divorce by unilateral demand of the petitioner”.

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