The Supreme Court has handed down its decision in Owens v Owens. Commenting on this, Mishcon de Reya Family Lawyer Antonia Felix said:
"The Supreme Court's decision could never create a new 'no fault' divorce law. Only Parliament can change the law regarding the basis of divorce in England. Today, the Supreme Court, very reluctantly and with a clear sense of unease, dismissed Mrs Owens appeal; Lord Wilson commenting that "Parliament may wish to consider whether to replace a law which denies to Mrs Owens any present entitlement to a divorce".
"Inevitably this decision will lend support to the pressure groups who have lobbied for divorce law reform. However, the impact of fault based divorce only affects a proportion of the 110,000 couples who are divorced in England each year.
"Far more worrying is the lack of protection afforded to minority faith groups by our marriage laws. Reports suggest that 61% of the 375,000 or so Islamic married families living in the England are not validly married under English law and therefore have no rights before the English courts if they are divorced. This is because although Christian and Jewish religious marriages are valid in English law, other religious marriages are invalid unless they were accompanied by a civil law marriage ceremony. It is likely that significant numbers of married observers of non-judeo Christian faiths are also in a similar position to members of the Muslim community.
"So, if Parliament is persuaded to review divorce law there is a far more pressing need to also review our marriage law to make it fit for our multi-faith 21st Century society."
Antonia's comment featured in the Daily Mail and Washington Post.