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Wife in court battle to separate from her husband

A recent court of appeal decision reported in the media earlier this week has caused quite a stir.

A wife, who petitioned for divorce on the grounds that her marriage had irretrievably broken down because of  her husband’s behaviour, has been unsuccessful in appealing the original decision of the lower court  to refuse to grant her petition.

Her husband defended the petition believing the marriage could be saved. The District Judge came to the conclusion that her allegations of behaviour “were of a kind to be expected in a marriage” and the decision was looked at again by three top family Judges, including Mr Justice Munby the President of the Family Division, who upheld the decision.

It is very rare for divorces to be defended and most clients are advised against it; if their partner has gone to the trouble and expense of issuing proceedings they must be sure in their minds that the marriage has no future and that defending may be a costly, stressful and ultimately fruitless exercise.

However, this latest decision makes it clear that the Petitioner still has to prove unreasonable behaviour before a court will grant a decree in divorce.

The outcome of this case is that, unless the husband gets his wish and the couple reconcile, if his wife wants a divorce she will have to wait for them to have lived separately for five years (unless her husband gives his consent after two years separation) before she can end the marriage.

The decision fuels the argument of those who support of the implementation  of a “no fault” divorce on the basis that current requirements to prove a marriage has broken down irretrievably are too archaic.

For advice about divorce or separation, please contact Clive Masters at our Halifax office on 01422 339602 or speak to any member of our Family teams in Halifax, Huddersfield or Brighouse.

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