The husband’s petition was based on section 1(2)(e) of the 1973 Act, namely that he and the wife had lived apart for at least five years. The Court of Appeal upheld the judge’s rejection of the wife’s opposition to the grant of a decree, which was that it would result in grave hardship to her within the meaning of section 5 of the 1973 Act. She had argued that the judge had failed to pay sufficient regard to her subjective reaction, as a Hindu wife, to the grant of a decree. In giving the leading judgment Cumming-Bruce LJ offered an analogy: ‘In behaviour cases, where the ground relied upon to prove the breakdown or a condition precedent to breakdown is the effect of behaviour, the court has to decide the single question whether the husband (for example) has so behaved that it is unreasonable to expect the wife to live with him. In order to decide that, it is necessary to make findings of fact of what the husband actually did and then findings of fact upon the impact of his conduct on that particular lady. As has been said again and again between a particular husband and a particular lady whose conduct and suffering are under scrutiny, there is of course a subjective element in the totality of the facts that are relevant to the solution but, when that subjective element has been evaluated, at the end of the day the question falls to be determined on an objective test.’
Obiter the court said: ‘(i) the court has to decide the single question whether the respondent has so behaved that it is unreasonable to expect the petitioner or applicant to live with him;
(ii) in order to decide that, it is necessary to make findings of fact as to what the respondent actually did, and findings of fact as to the impact of that conduct on the petitioner or applicant;
(iii) there is, of course, a subjective element in the totality of the facts that are relevant to the solution, but when that subjective element has been evaluated, at the end of the day the question falls to be determined on an objective test.’
(1980) 11 Fam Law 110, (1981) 11 Fam Law 110
matrimonial Causes Act 1973 1(2)(e) 5
England and Wales
Approved – Owens v Owens CA 24-Mar-2017
Unreasonable Behaviour must reach criteria
W appealed against the judge’s refusal to grant a decree of divorce. He found that the marriage had broken down irretrievably, but did not find that H had behaved iin such a way that she could not reasonably be expected to live with H.
Held: . .
Cited – Owens v Owens SC 25-Jul-2018
W petitioned for divorce alleging that he ‘has behaved in such a way that [she] cannot reasonably be expected to live with [him]’. H defended, and the petition was rejected as inadequate in the behaviour alleged. She said that the section should be . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 August 2021; Ref: scu.581123