The Tini Owens appeal is currently being heard by the Supreme Court. The Appellant’s solicitor, Mr Beecle, has stated that the appeal is not an attempt to change the law but instead concerns the correct interpretation of section 1(2)(b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This states:
“the Respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent”
The Appellant appears to be arguing for a more subjective test, namely that whether she can reasonably be expected to live with her husband will depend more on her feelings that his conduct. Thus if the husband’s behaviour is such that Mrs Owens no longer loves him, then she cannot reasonably be expected to live with her husband; the test should be more about the effect the behaviour has on the petitioner than objective reasonableness.
This interpretation would go against the natural interpretation of the language of section 1(2)(b) and would in practice lead to no fault divorce without the relevant 2 and 5 year time limits.