British judge refuses divorce, 'locks' wife into unhappy marriage

Divorce is usually a straightforward legal process because both parties recognise the relationship has broken down.
Natalia Sinelnik/123RF

Divorce is usually a straightforward legal process because both parties recognise the relationship has broken down.

A British judge has refused to grant a woman a divorce because her husband said they still had "a few years" left to enjoy together.

Tini Owens, 65, petitioned for the divorce last year, telling the court she felt "unloved, isolated and alone", that her husband Hugh criticised her in front of others and that he couldn't forgive a 10-month affair she had in 2015.

In an extremely unusual move, Hugh Owens, 78, contested his wife's divorce petition after 39 years of marriage, saying the couple still had a "few years" to enjoy together, the BBC reported.  

Judge Robin Tolson QC agreed and described her claims as "exaggerated", "flimsy" and "minor" before refusing to grant the divorce, The Sun reported

Hugh Owens maintains that he has "moved on" and "forgiven" his wife. 

Under British law, a divorce is granted automatically after a couple have been separated for five years. However, divorce petitions are generally granted earlier if they are uncontested. 

Tini Owens has asked the Court of Appeal to reconsider the decision. If she loses, she won't be able to divorce her husband - from whom she separated in early 2015 - until 2019. 

After marrying in 1978, the Owens built up a mushroom-growing business with an annual turnover of £5 million (NZ$8.6 million) and own four homes, including properties in Wales and France.  

Tini Owens' lawyer, Philip Marshall QC, described her as a "locked-in wife", The Telegraph reported. "She cannot get divorced unless the husband changes his mind and agrees," he said. 

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The Court of Appeal's decision is pending. 

 - Stuff

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