LIFE BITE: A Faulty Divorce – Supreme Court to hear contested ‘unreasonable behaviour’ divorce case today.

apple-150579_1280Five Supreme Court judges will today begin deciding whether to grant Tini Owens a divorce from her husband,  after the lower courts decided she was not entitled to one. 

Tini Owens is the wife of Hugh Owens, a multimillionaire farmer whom she married in January 1978 and separated from in August 2013. 

In her divorce petition, Mrs Owens stated that her husband had behaved unreasonably in his “continued beratement” of her.  She outlined his conduct in her divorce petition,  which included criticising her in front of their housekeeper, arguing with her in an airport shop, not speaking to her during a meal and making her pick up bits of cardboard in the garden.  She submitted in her divorce petition that this behaviour amounted to unreasonable behaviour.

Mr Owens claimed that he had forgiven his wife for her “misguided” fling in 2012, and told the Court that he wanted to remain married to his wife as they “still have a few years of old age together”.

The Judge hearing the divorce in the first instance,  concluded that Mr Owens’  behaviour towards his wife had not been unreasonable and refused her divorce petition last year.

The Judge described the farmer’s attitude as “old school” and stated that Mrs Owens’ allegations against her husband were “exaggerated” and “at best flimsy”.  The Judge further claimed that the conduct described by Mrs Owens were “minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage” and “an exercise in scraping the barrel”.

The Judge also found that Mrs Owens was “more sensitive than most wives” and that she had “exaggerated the context and seriousness of the allegations to a significant degree”.

Mrs Owens has claimed that as a result of the Court’s refusal to grant her a divorce, she was effectively “locked in” to her marriage with Mr Owens. She claimed that it was unfair that under current law she would have to wait five years before being allowed a divorce without her husband’s consent.

Mrs Owen’s legal representatives have submitted that it is unreasonable to expect her to stay in the marriage, with her barrister adding: “There doesn’t have to be violence, or threats of violence, or gambling or drinking or shouting. There is cumulative effect of what may be regarded as inconsequential conduct, which may justify a finding that it is unreasonable to expect her to stay with him.”

Mr Owens legal representative told the Court that the initial divorce Judge had been “entitled to reject the wife’s case”. The Court of Appeal rejected Ms Owen’s appeal and the matter is now before the highest Court in the land and it is expected that the Supreme Court will deliver judgment on the matter later this year.

For more information on the grounds for divorce here in Northern Ireland, you can read our earlier blog piece ‘Divorce – What are the Grounds?’ or contact us here.

 

 

 

International Divorce : Things To Consider

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The world is becoming a smaller place with ever greater opportunities for people to travel and work abroad.   Increasing numbers of people are meeting and marrying someone from another country and as such, many families now have both a multicultural and an international dimension which would have been far less prevalent a decade ago.
If this family unit breaks down, there are a number of additional issues which can arise.  Here are some of the ways an international dimension can have an impact on family breakdown:
It may be possible for divorce proceedings to be brought in more than one jurisdiction.

The choice of jurisdiction can have a significant impact on the outcome of divorce proceedings as different countries apply different sets of rules, especially when it comes to the division of assets. It may be financially advantageous to a spouse to issue proceedings in one jurisdiction rather than another.  It is extremely important to seek legal advice about the different jurisdictional options at the very earliest stage as often the Court where proceedings are first issued will be the Court which ultimately decides the case.

There may be a limit in the Court’s power to enforce orders in relation to property or assets in another jurisdiction.

On divorce, there may be a limit to what a Court can do in relation to assets held in another jurisdiction. For example, if a couple own a holiday home abroad, there may be difficulties in enforcing a Court order dealing with this foreign asset.

There may be issues regarding where the children should live in the future.

After the breakdown of a relationship, one parent may wish to move back to their country of origin with their children.  However, if they do this without the consent of the other parent or permission from the Court, they could well be accused of abducting their child and proceedings could be brought for the return of the child to the place in which they had been living. Indeed, in some countries these actions could amount to a criminal offence.  It is crucial that legal advice is taken so that you are fully informed before deciding how to proceed. It is also important if your child has been taken without consent that you take steps as soon as possible if you wish for them to be returned.

Could a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement help?

One way to try to avoid the uncertainty of what may happen should a relationship break down is to enter into an agreement while the relationship is working well. Whilst these agreements are regarded by some as unromantic, they are a practical way of agreeing what should happen if things don’t work out. Such an agreement could record what would happen to the assets following relationship breakdown.  It could also record the parties’ intentions about the children such as where they would live, their maintenance and education. The agreement could also settle which Court would have legal jurisdiction if there is a dispute.

Many countries recognise pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements or at the very least take its terms into account when ascertaining what the parties’ intentions had been. It is important to find out if the jurisdiction in which you will be living would do so.

If you would like further information on any legal aspect of divorce, please feel free to contact us confidentially here or leave your comments below

 

LIFE BITE: Wife refused divorce as unreasonable behaviour claimed is “expected in a marriage”

apple-150579_1280The wife of a multimillionaire farmer has asked the Court of Appeal to overturn the decision made by a lower Court to refuse her a divorce after the Judge hearing her divorce ruled that her husband’s behaviour was to be “expected in a marriage”.

Tini Owens, 65, married her husband Hugh Owens, 78, in January 1978.  In November 2012, Mrs Owens, had a brief fling with another man, which ended in August 2013.

In her divorce petition, Mrs Owens stated that her husband had behaved unreasonably in his “continued beratement” of her.  She outlined his conduct in her petition,  which included criticising her in front of their housekeeper, arguing with her in an airport shop, not speaking to her during a meal and making her pick up bits of cardboard in the garden.  She submitted in her divorce petition that this behaviour amounted to unreasonable behaviour.

Mr Owens has to date claimed that he had forgiven his wife for her “misguided” fling in 2012, and told the Court that he wanted to remain married to his wife as they “still have a few years of old age together”.

The Judge hearing the divorce, Judge Robin Tolson QC, concluded that Mr Owens’  behaviour towards his wife had not been unreasonable and refused her divorce petition last year.

Judge Tolson QC described the farmer’s attitude as “old school” and stated that Mrs Owens’ allegations against her husband were “exaggerated” and “at best flimsy”.  The Judge further claimed that the conduct described by Mrs Owens were “minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage” and “an exercise in scraping the barrel”.

Judge Tolson also found that Mrs Owens was “more sensitive than most wives” and that she had “exaggerated the context and seriousness of the allegations to a significant degree”.

Mrs Owens claimed that as a result of the Court’s refusal to grant her a divorce, she was effectively “locked in” to her marriage with Mr Owens. She claimed that it was unfair that under current law she would have to wait five years before being allowed a divorce without her husband’s consent.

Mrs Owen’s legal representatives have submitted that it is unreasonable to expect her to stay in the marriage, with her barrister adding: “There doesn’t have to be violence, or threats of violence, or gambling or drinking or shouting. There is cumulative effect of what may be regarded as inconsequential conduct, which may justify a finding that it is unreasonable to expect her to stay with him.”

Mr Owens legal representative told the Court that the initial divorce Judge had been “entitled to reject the wife’s case”. ”

The Court of Appeal judges are expected to reserve their decision on Mrs Owens’ appeal and give their ruling at a later date.

For more information on the grounds for divorce here in Northern Ireland, you can read our earlier blog piece ‘Divorce – What are the Grounds?’ or contact us here.

 

 

LIFE BITE: Brangelina No More! Angelina Jolie files for divorce from Brad Pitt

apple-150579_1280Angelina Jolie’s lawyer confirmed yesterday that she has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt.   The couple have been together since 2004 and have six children.  They were married in August 2014.

 

In a statement made by Angelina’s lawyer, we were told that she filed for “dissolution of marriage” on Monday and that the “decision was made for the health of the family”.

Sometimes, for one reason or another, a marriage just doesn’t work – regardless of whether you are rich, famous movie stars or not.  In fact, here in Northern Ireland, currently one in four marriages ends in divorce.

Ending a marriage can be one of the most difficult and stressful times in a person’s life.  Making the decision to end your marriage brings with it many worries and fears about how life will change upon divorce. The last thing that any person going through a divorce wants to worry about is having to navigate a long, complicated legal process to reach the end result.

It may be a relief to know that the legal procedure for divorce here in Northern Ireland is fairly straightforward.    We have put together below some information for you on our blog to explain how this process works.

Click here to read more

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ON THE LEGAL PROCESS OF DIVORCE OR IF YOU HAVE A QUERY REGARDING YOUR OWN DIVORCE, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT us at cedgar@fhanna.co.uk OR kconnolly@fhanna.co.uk or LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS CONFIDENTIALLY BELOW.

The Ashley Madison Effect: 5 Things You Should Know About Divorcing On Adultery in NI

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‘Life is Short. Have an Affair’

This is the slogan that has featured heavily in the media in the past few weeks.

Its aim?? Quite simply to draw people onto a Canadian-based dating website called ‘Ashley Madison’, a website which is marketed towards people who are married or in a committed relationship who wish to commit adultery.

In a technology obsessed world, it now seems that it may actually be possible to start an adulterous relationship from the comfort of your own home. The mind truly boggles!

Though on a serious note, what things should unsuspecting (or indeed suspecting) spouses/civil partners know if they catch their other half on a website such as this?

Here are a few pointers:-

1.  Chatting online is not proof of adultery

Catching your spouse on a dating website is not enough in itself to prove to a Court that they have committed adultery for the purpose of divorce proceedings. Some people may be surprised to discover that in order to rely on adultery you actually need to provide proof to the Court that your spouse has had sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex.

Chatting on dating websites may, however, be enough to prove to that your spouse has been behaving unreasonably towards you – for example, it can be used to show a Court that they have been leading the life of a single person or in fact that they have been having an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with another person.

2.  An admission of adultery is often enough for the Court

If upon being confronted, your spouse admits to having committed adultery, this may be enough evidence to file for divorce on the grounds of their adultery.

3. You can ask the Court to make your spouse pay for the divorce

If you successfully file for divorce on the ground of your spouse’s adultery, or even on the ground that their behaviour is unreasonable, you can ask the Court to make an Order for legal costs against your spouse. Essentially you would be claiming that because the marriage breakdown was the fault of your spouse they should pay your legal costs in getting a divorce. Whilst this may not ease the heartache caused, it may relieve the financial burden of ending the relationship.

4. You can name the third party in divorce proceedings if you wish to

If you file for divorce on the ground of your spouse’s adultery, you have the option to name the other party involved in the divorce proceedings. They would then be named on all of the divorce papers and may also be ordered to pay towards the costs of your divorce.

5. Forgiving adultery may mean that you can’t rely on it for divorce

If, after discovering that your spouse committed adultery, you resume married life and continue to live with your spouse for more than six months after discovering the affair, you may not be able to rely on the ground of adultery in the future should things not work out between you. This is because you may be seen to have condoned or forgiven your spouse’s behaviour and therefore you can’t later seek to rely on it.

We all hope that adultery and infidelity will never darken the door of our own relationships and that all we need to worry about is whose turn it is to wash the dishes! However, if you do need information or assistance in relation to any aspect of divorce or relationship breakdown, you can seek confidential advice from an experienced solicitor in this area to guide you through your options.

As always, we appreciate your comments on this topic.  If you do need any further informaiotn, please contact Karen or Claire