No-Fault Divorce Around the World

A British woman who alleges she was “desperately unhappy” being married lost her divorce. Unlike Florida, many places require proving fault, you can lose your case, and have to stay married!

As the BBC reports, Tini Owens, 66, asked the Court of Appeal to overturn a family court judge who turned her down when she asked to divorce her husband Hugh Owens, 78.

You read that correctly. Of all of the issues facing you when you divorce: who gets custody, how will I support myself, what are the tax implications of alimony, in some places you could actually lose your request to divorce and have to stay married.

The appellate court judges in Great Britain upheld the trial judge’s ruling. Mrs. Owens claimed that her marriage had broken down, but Mr. Owens disagreed.

The Husband argued that the couple still had a “few years” to enjoy. And the trial judge agreed with him. The judge ruled the Wife’s allegations were “of the kind to be expected in marriage”. Parliament decreed “it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage, though some people may say it should be.”

Florida is a “No-Fault” state. No-fault laws are widespread across the United States, but not everywhere. No fault laws have helped to reduce animosity in divorces by reducing the need to distort, lie, and air dirty laundry.

I’ve written about no-fault divorce before. Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only reason you need to file for divorce in Florida is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” But as the case of Mrs. Owens shows, in other places, that is not always true.

While Florida is a No-Fault state for divorce, it is interesting to know why people divorce. A recent study out of the UK reveals some surprising reasons why people divorce. Interestingly, adultery is a declining factor.

It appears that couples are less likely to cite adultery as the cause of a divorce than they were 40 years ago. However, claims of “unreasonable behavior” (a British term) have skyrocketed to more than 5 million divorce cases.

The BBC article is available here.