Posted by Imran Khodabocus on 21st February 2017
Last updated 18th April 2017
Is it ‘unreasonable’ to want to get divorced?

The recent case involving Tini Owens has been in the headlines. The Court of Appeal refused her permission to get divorced from her husband on the basis of his ‘unreasonable behaviour.’ This article asks the question when is it ‘unreasonable’ to want to get divorced from your partner.

It is important to remember that there is only one ground to end a marriage or civil partnership – that is has broken down irretrievably. This will be proved if the petitioner, the person bringing divorce or dissolution proceedings, can prove that they cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent. This is known as one of the five ‘facts’ on which a petitioner can prove that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. There are others, such as the other person’s adultery or the fact that you have been separated for two years (in which case you will need the other person to agree) or for five years (where you don’t).

Tini Owens was married for 39 years to her husband. She made 27 allegations or examples of Mr Owen’s treatment of her including how she felt he ‘constantly mistrusted’ and he was ‘insensitive’ to  her. Hugh Owens, instead thought they had a ‘few years’ to enjoy.

This then begs the question, what do I need to establish if I want to rely on ‘unreasonable behaviour’?  The test is would a right thinking person conclude that the petitioner could not reasonably be expected to live with the respondent? In determining this, a court will look at the conduct of the respondent and its effect on the petitioner, having regard to the history of the marriage/partnership.  So when preparing divorce petitions, it should include some recent examples of the other persons unreasonable behaviour and the effect it has had on you personally.

Sure, there is an element of objectivity, but a court will be concerned with the people involved and the effect on this particular couple. There may well be a wide spectrum of examples of unreasonable behaviour which may be relatively ‘minor’ but when taken together may mean that it is not reasonable to expect the petitioner to continue to live with the respondent.

The Owens’ case is rare. It is an example of a defended divorce, which do not happen very often. They are expensive and are not usually successful.

If you are considering getting divorced and require some advice, please call Imran Khodabocus on 01392 284 851. Maybe you want some advice about how to prepare your divorce petition, or maybe you are thinking of separating from your partner, if so we can help. Please call Imran. Remember, your first appointment is always free.


Need some advice? Get in touch today

Imran Khodabocus is an award-winning Solicitor and Director at The Family Law Company. He specialises in children and domestic abuse matters which are complex and sensitive including honour based abuse. He is fluent in French, German and Spanish.

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