An end to the blame game in divorce?

Amongst lawyers and in the wider public, the well publicised case of Mrs Tini Owens in Owens v Owens shone a light on the difficulties caused by our fault based divorce system.

Under the current law, divorce proceedings can be based on adultery, desertion, unreasonable behaviour, 2 year separation with your spouse’s consent or 5 years separation.


Mrs Owens issued divorce proceedings to divorce her husband on the basis of his unreasonable behaviour. He defended the petition and succeeded. Mrs Owens appeal which was heard by the Supreme Court in July 2018 failed.

This meant she would remain legally tied to a marriage that had broken down and would only be able to issue divorce proceedings in 2020 on the basis of the parties’5 yearseparation by which time Mrs Owens would be 70 years old and Mr Owens 82 years old.

There has been a much needed call by family lawyers and through effective campaigns from the organisation Resolution for our divorce laws to be brought into the 21st century.


As a family lawyer, it is frustrating to have to advise clients that unless they want to wait for two years and obtain their partner’s consent, the only option if they want to divorce immediately (in the absence of adultery) is to start divorce proceedings on the basis of their spouse’s unreasonable behaviour. Both unreasonable behaviour and adultery require an allocation of blame.

Allocating blame for the end of a marriage forces couples into needless acrimony and conflict. It is also at odds with situations where couples may wish to resolve matters amicably.

The governments recently launched consultation to introduce no fault divorce is a much welcomed beacon of light to the millions of couples that will no longer be forced to allocate blame, can divorce with dignity and ultimately move on with their lives.




MHHP Law is available to help guide you through varying family law circumstances.  

For advice on reaching your preferred resolution, please feel free to contact our Family Law Partner, Tayo Taylor on 0203 667 4783, or via email:​