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Helen Noble

Associate Solicitor - Sevenoaks

15th February 2017

Unreasonable Behaviour

National newspapers today report that a 66 year old lady who wishes to divorce her 78 year old husband after 39 years of marriage was told by a Judge in the Oxford Court that the twenty seven examples of her husband’s behaviour, which she found unreasonable ‘were of the kind to be expected in a marriage’.  At enormous expense no doubt, to both Mr and Mrs Owens, the Court of Appeal is now to decide whether or not the Judge in Oxford made the wrong decision. In the meantime Mrs Owens remains ‘desperately unhappy’ in her marriage.  Mr Owens on the other hand considers the couple have a ‘few years’ to enjoy.

It is not uncommon for one spouse to have left the marriage in their mind several months before the other but what is very uncommon is for the Court to hear evidence from both spouses to decide whether or not their marriage has broken down irretrievably.  One might consider that a couple facing each other across the Court room asking a Judge to decide whether or not their marriage was over would be sufficient in itself to prove that it had!

So what are the options when one spouse believes the marriage has broken down but the other is not of the same view and is prepared to defend a petition?  The answer is to live separate and apart for five years.  Financially that may not be viable. If  you are ‘desperately unhappy’ in your marriage how unreasonable is that?

For further information please contact Helen Noble, Associate Solicitor in our Family department at our Sevenoaks office on 01732 448164 or emailing

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