Saturday 20 January 2018

Wife of millionaire farmer 'has to live next door to him for three years and pay €117k before they can divorce'

Tini Owens failed to persuade a family court judge to allow her to divorce husband Hugh Owens

Tini Owens, as a specialist lawyer says the 66-year-old woman's high-profile fight to end her marriage highlights the need for the introduction of
Tini Owens, as a specialist lawyer says the 66-year-old woman's high-profile fight to end her marriage highlights the need for the introduction of "no-fault divorce". Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Hugh Owens, as a specialist lawyer says a 66-year-old woman's high-profile fight to end her marriage highlights the need for the introduction of "no-fault divorce". Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Tini Owens leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where the 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. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Hugh Owens leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where his wife, Tini Owens, 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. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Brian Farmer

Lawyers say a 66-year-old woman's high-profile fight to end her 39-year marriage highlights the need for the modernisation of divorce law.

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

Mrs Owens who is living in a farmhouse only yards from her estranged husband’s Cotswold home, must wait another three years before she is able to divorce Mr Owens after a judge turned down her petition to end their “intensely unhappy” marriage last year.

She has also been left with a £100,000 (€117,670) legal bill.

Hugh Owens, as a specialist lawyer says a 66-year-old woman's high-profile fight to end her marriage highlights the need for the introduction of
Hugh Owens, as a specialist lawyer says a 66-year-old woman's high-profile fight to end her marriage highlights the need for the introduction of "no-fault divorce". Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

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

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

Tini Owens leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where the 66-year-old woman who wants to divorce her husband of nearly 40 years is waiting to see whether she has won an
Tini Owens leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where the 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. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

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.

They are expected to publish a ruling soon.

Hugh Owens leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where his wife, Tini Owens, who wants to divorce her husband of nearly 40 years is waiting to see whether she has won an
Hugh Owens leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where his wife, Tini Owens, 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. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Specialist divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag says judges should not compel people to stay married.

''This case highlights the absurdity of fault-based divorce,'' she said.

''If a party is willing to go to the Court of Appeal to fight for a divorce, spending significant sums on the way, there is clearly no future for the marriage.

''It is beyond archaic that she should have to prove it to a judge.

"There is no good reason for a court to compel someone to stay married when they clearly do not want to be.

"We must push forward with no-fault divorce and end ridiculous charades like this.''

Philippa Dolan, who also specialises in divorce and family litigation and is based at law firm Collyer Bristow, said: "The case quite clearly reinforces the need for a change to the law.

"Whilst the decision in this case is unusual, too often those petitioning for divorce are forced to rely on demonstrating 'unreasonable behaviour'.

"This works against the solicitor's role of minimising division and seeking an amicable and fair outcome for the whole family."

She added: "Put simply, we need a family law system which reflects the way relationships and marriage work in 2017.

"We need a move towards 'no-fault' divorces, where there is no requirement for one spouse to prove the other did something wrong."

Mrs Owens says her husband behaved unreasonably and says their marriage has irretrievably broken down.

She says Mr Owens is ''insensitive'' in his ''manner and tone''. She said she felt ''constantly mistrusted'' and unloved.

Mr Owens, a retired businessman, disagrees and denies allegations made against him.

He is against a divorce and said they still had a ''few years'' to enjoy.

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

Press Association

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