The High Court refused the appeal of Tini Owens (R) to divorce husband Hugh Owens (L)
Tini Owens went to the High Court to overturn a previous ruling denying her bid to divorce husband Hugh Owens.
But three judges, led by Sir James Munby, upheld the original court judgment that there was “no right to be divorced” under the European Convention on Human Rights, and dismissed her appeal.
Without her husband’s consent Mrs Owens, 66, must now wait until she qualifies for automatic divorce on grounds of five years’ separation.
Earlier, her lawyers described the couple’s relationship as an “unhappy, loveless” one.
I very much regret that our decision will leave the wife in a very unhappy situation
Lady Justice Hallett
Her husband, a former mushroom farmer, was “traditional, old school” and simply would not let her leave him, despite her affair with another man.
The couple married in 1978 but have been living apart since February 2015.
However, in a move that may trigger a change in the law, Sir James questioned whether the time had come for the introduction of “no fault” divorce.
Tini Owens went to the High Court to overturn a previous ruling denying her a divorce
His words were echoed by Lady Justice Hallett, who said: “I very much regret that our decision will leave the wife in a very unhappy situation.”
Urging Mr Owens to relent and grant his wife a divorce, she added: “On any view the marriage is over.”
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The Court of Appeal said Mrs Owens had failed to establish that her marriage to the 78-year-old retired businessman had legally and irretrievably broken down.
The “extraordinarily unusual” court fight means Mrs Owens must remain “locked into” a marriage to a husband she no longer loves.
Mr Owens was “unpleasant” and “disparaging” to her in front of family and friends, her lawyers said.
She felt “unloved, isolated and alone” and argued her husband’s “unreasonable behaviour” was grounds for divorce.
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He, however, said he had “moved on” and “forgiven” his wife for her “misguided” affair in 2012. He wanted them to remain married as they “still have a few years of old age together”.
Divorce judge Robin Tolson refused to grant Mrs Owens a decree nisi in January last year.
He described her allegations as “minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage” and “an exercise in scraping the barrel”.
Sir James, sitting with Ladies Justice Hallett and Macur, dismissed Mrs Owens’ appeal, saying there was no flaw in Judge Tolson’s decision.
He concluded: “Parliament has decreed that it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage, though some people may say it should be.”
Simon Blain, of law firm Penningtons Manches, said: “This is the most significant divorce case of the century.
“The judgment will strengthen calls for Parliament urgently to consider amending the law to introduce no-fault divorce.”