The Solicitors Journal recently reported that lawyers are seeing ‘far more acrimonious’ allegations (of) unreasonable behaviour …. since the Court of Appeal decision in Owens v Owens’ which involved the denial, by judges, to grant a divorce to Mrs Owen’s following her failure to prove unreasonable behaviour.
Like most divorce cases that are reported in the press the Owen’s case has made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
We Need to Talk about Owen’s
What is not reported in the wider press is that ‘defended’ divorces (cases that reach court because one party does not want to get divorced) are still VERY rare and prohibitively expensive.
Following wide spread press coverage that a divorce application was denied. Applicants are naturally worried about their own applications. The unfortunate result of the Owen’s decision is that applicants are now leaning towards more acrimonious allegations in their applications to insure that their divorce is granted.
The unforeseen consequence of relying on such acrimonious allegations is that it also has the potential to make your spouse uncooperative. With the result that the very steps the applicant is taking to insure that their application is granted can be the action that makes their spouse uncooperative and lead to a problematic divorce.
I think it’s worth remembering that the end of a marriage or civil partnership is an unfortunate process for all parties involved.
Whilst recognising the above it is also important to try and make the distinction between the legal ‘formal’ process of ending a marriage/civil partnership and the personal side.
Understandably, this is traditionally the part that most people struggle with.
Sadly the recent decision in Owen’s and the press coverage that followed has only served to muddy the waters. The decision in Owen’s has once again highlighted the need for No Fault Divorce in England & Wales.
Unfortunately, No Fault Divorce is still along way off so what can you do to ensure your application is accepted.
- Resist the temptation to go into too much detail about the reasons for your separation. The court is only interested in the formal criteria being met not the wrong doing of the parties.
- If you are still on speaking terms with your spouse discuss your application before submitting it so it’s contents are not a ‘surprise’ to your spouse. Despite what people think there is nothing to loose ‘strategically’ in doing this and everything to gain. This is your life not a game.
- If your spouse is not co-operative rest assured that they can not ‘ignore’ a divorce application. There are rules in place if this happens and it does not stop your application from proceeding. https://www.gov.uk/divorce/respond-to-a-divorce-petition
Carmen Hudson (LLB) is a director and head of legal of operations at DivorceBox.com a online legal service provider specialising in online divorce (e-divorce).
After 15 years in dispute resolution she founded DivorceBox to offer a less intimidating alternative to traditional legal services.