World Cup 1 - Marriage 0

26 June 2018

by Rebecca Manley

Not even a week has passed and I am already sick of watching a bunch of men kicking a ball around a field while thousands of fans are either screaming in horror or squealing in delight in equal measures. Yes, the World Cup is now in full swing. What was once a leisurely flick through the tv guide has turned into a strict schedule of which overpaid footballer will grace my tv with his presence and when.

As I daydream, and draft the divorce petition in my head (can I particularise ‘addicted to football’ as an instance of unreasonable behaviour – provided I find it intolerable to live with my spouse?), I think about the recent activity in the Supreme Court and the final battle in the seemingly never-ending case of Owens v Owens. The case where the court at first instance refused to grant the wife decree nisi on the basis that the judge did not accept the husband’s behaviour was unreasonable based on his standards (he said the wife’s complaints were ‘minor altercations of a kind expected in a marriage’), a decision which was subsequently upheld in the Court of Appeal. Practitioners across England and Wales wait with baited breath for the judgment from the Supreme Court, wondering if we will now see a real change towards non-fault based divorce following years of campaigning (surely if two adults agree they want a divorce they should not need to wait a minimum of 2 years before one party can lodge a petition, or face having to rely on the fact of adultery or unreasonable behaviour?).

Until we have that judgment however we are stuck with the current law if we want to divorce before waiting the minimum of 2 years (and if adultery does not apply) and the need to set out in – sometimes painstaking detail – the behaviour of one’s spouse and the effect this has had on the Petitioner, with children often getting caught in the crossfire.

The truth is that there is no way of avoiding a divorce, World Cup or not. Each family and its circumstances are truly unique to them. But, hopefully, if you have taken the recent decision to separate from your spouse there will soon be a much easier, quicker and conflict-free way of doing so.

Now wouldn’t that be a result worth celebrating?


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