FAMILY LAW disputes can be one of the most interesting to read, particularly when they are highlighted in the press on a virtual daily basis.
However, such disputes involve individuals who can be going through one of the most difficult and emotional times in their lives. Such disputes can be destructive and tear families apart.
I was interested to read the case of Tini Owens, who is seeking a divorce from her husband Hugh Owens. Divorce proceedings are usually a paper exercise and proceed uncontested as both parties accept the marriage has broken down.
Mr Owens however had decided his marriage was worth fighting for and successfully defended his wife’s divorce petition so that they remain married.
Defended divorce proceedings are rare. The costs involved and the usual inevitable outcome that follows puts people off defending the divorce proceedings – but not Mr Owens.
Despite Mrs Owens making 27 allegations about how Mr Owens had treated her during the marriage, a judge found Mrs Owens had failed to sufficiently prove the contents of her divorce petition and therefore refused to grant the Decree Nisi.
Mrs Owens has now appealed to the Court of Appeal and that decision is awaited. You have to wonder though if the judge was out of touch with reality.
The circumstances in this case are highly unusual. The reality is Mrs Owens is unlikely to return to Mr Owens but the court is making her stay married. Marriage is a lifetime commitment but to force people to remain in unhappy marriages seems wrong and has wider implications between the parties that may never be healed.
In England and Wales we operate a fault based divorce system. There continue to be calls for a no fault divorce system. However, in the days following the Owens trial the Government announced that it would not be reforming the divorce law.
If you are contemplating a separation which may involve divorce proceedings, then it is important you seek legal advice to ensure any divorce petition filed with the Court has the correct content to avoid your spouse successfully defending the divorce proceedings.
Anthony Jones is Head of Family Law at O Donnell Solicitors and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist.
For more information or a second opinion, please call him on 0161 641 4555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about O’Donnell Solicitors, who have offices in Uppermill and Lees, online: www.odonnellsolicitors.co.uk