(07) 5597 3366

English divorce denied. Contrasts to Australia’s simpler system.

English laws prevent divorce despite separation

A recent case in the UK has hit the headlines in which a woman, Tini Owens, has been denied her application for a divorce despite leaving her husband more than 3 years ago.

Under the relevant English legislation Mrs Owens now has to wait until 2020 before she can apply for a divorce. That’s because, unlike Australia, the law in England does not allow for a ‘no-fault’ divorce and because Mr Owens doesn’t agree to the divorce his wife has to wait fully 5 years before her application can be granted.

You can read the BBC’s coverage of Mrs Owens’ legal saga by clicking here.

No fault divorce in Australia a simpler process

In Australia, the usual criteria for applying for a divorce is much more straightforward. The only grounds for divorce is that per section 48(1) of the Family Law Act 1975 the ‘marriage has broken down irretrievably‘.

The criteria to apply for a divorce is found at section 48(2) of the Act and may be summarised as follows:

  1. The parties must have been married for more than 2 years; and
  2. They must have separated for more than 12 months.

There are even exceptions to these rules. For example, it is possible for couples who have been married for even less than 2 years to apply for a divorce providing that they have undergone counselling and obtained a certificate confirming that reconciliation has been considered (a requirement of section 44(1B) of the Act).

Divorce, property and parenting

Although divorce application is dealt with separately from applications to do with property and parenting, it is important to note that there are still connections between the issues.

For instance, in most instances there is a 12 month limitation period to commence any property proceedings following a divorce; and in a divorce application where there are children under 18, a court needs to be satisfied that suitable arrangements for them have been made.

Family Law services at Bell Legal Group

At Bell Legal Group we have a dedicated Family Law team to assist people when going through a separation. If you need sympathetic and respectful legal assistance with your divorce, property settlement or children’s matters please contact us to find out how we can help.



For more information on this topic please contact Margaret Miller, Partner and Family Lawyer. This article has been prepared by Bell Legal Group for general information purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.