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Wife who wants divorce faces years next door to husband



  • Tini Owens, 66, is trying to divorce husband Hugh Owens, 78, while living in neighbouring country houses
  • She moved out of their manor into farmhouse in 2015 - but may have to stay until 2020 to secure a divorce 
  • Last year she failed to persuade Judge Robin Tolson, who said she was 'more sensitive than most wives'
  • Her mushroom farmer husband does not want a divorce and insists they still have a 'years' to enjoy together
  • His Dutch wife says he snipes at her but her husband claims that he is just 'teasing' and just has a loud voice
  • Now Mrs Owens wants Court of Appeal judges to overturn original decision or face three years next door

By Martin Robinson, Uk Chief Reporter For Mailonline

Published: 10:54 EST, 15 February 2017 | Updated: 16:18 EST, 15 February 2017

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A wife at loggerheads with her millionaire mushroom farmer husband faces up to three more years living in a neighbouring Cotswolds mansion so she can be freed from their 'loveless marriage', MailOnline can reveal today.

Tini Owens, 66, still resides in a grand farmhouse next door to her 78-year-old husband Hugh Owens' manor despite battling him in the High Court to end their 39-year marriage.

Mrs Owens took her farmer husband to the Court of Appeal on Valentine's Day and yesterday begged three judges for a divorce because he makes her feel 'unloved, isolated and alone'.

But Mr Owens is opposed to the divorce even though his wife had a year-long affair in 2013 and said they still had a 'few years' to enjoy together in life - even if that means living next door.

A neighbour of the Owens, who did not want to be named, told MailOnline: 'He lives in the manor and he owns the farmhouse next door, which is where she lives. It is a bit odd that they live in separate houses a few metres apart'. 

Tini Owens (pictured) has gone to the High Court to try to to divorce her wealthy husband Hugh Owens because he is refusing to end their 39-year marriage Tini Owens (pictured) has gone to the High Court to try to to divorce her wealthy husband Hugh Owens because he is refusing to end their 39-year marriage
Tini Owens has gone to the High Court to try to to divorce her wealthy husband Hugh Owens (pictured today) because he is refusing to end their 39-year marriage Tini Owens has gone to the High Court to try to to divorce her wealthy husband Hugh Owens (pictured today) because he is refusing to end their 39-year marriage

Court battle: Tini Owens (left) has gone to the High Court to try to to divorce her wealthy husband Hugh Owens (pictured right, today) because he is refusing to end their 39-year marriage

Neighbours: Mrs Owens lives in the farmhouse on the left while her millionaire husband lives in the manor on the right Neighbours: Mrs Owens lives in the farmhouse on the left while her millionaire husband lives in the manor on the right

Neighbours: Mrs Owens lives in the farmhouse on the left while her millionaire husband lives in the manor on the right

Legal wrangle: Mrs Owens wants Court of Appeal judges to overturn their original decision not to allow a divorce or she could face three years next door to her husband  Legal wrangle: Mrs Owens wants Court of Appeal judges to overturn their original decision not to allow a divorce or she could face three years next door to her husband 

Legal wrangle: Mrs Owens wants Court of Appeal judges to overturn their original decision not to allow a divorce or she could face three years next door to her husband 

The couple, who married in January 1978, have been living in neighbouring properties in Worcestershire since February 2015.

'NO FAULT' DIVORCE MEANS THEY MUST STAY TOGETHER FOR THREE MORE YEARS

Tini Owens may have wait another two years before she can divorce her husband. 

Tini Owens may have wait another two years before she can divorce her husband.

Her husband Hugh Owens does not want their marriage to end, which means the couple must be separated for at least five years before the separation alone will be enough to grant the petition.

A specialist lawyer says a 66-year-old woman's high-profile fight to end her marriage highlights the need for the introduction of 'no-fault divorce'.

Tini Owens has failed to persuade a family court judge to allow her to divorce husband Hugh Owens, 78.

Judge Robin Tolson published a ruling last year in which he refused to grant Mrs Owens' divorce petition.

Now Mrs Owens has asked Court of Appeal judges to overturn that decision.

Three appeal judges - led by Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales - analysed the case at a hearing in London on Tuesday and are expected to publish a ruling soon.

Specialist divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag said: 'This case highlights the absurdity of fault-based divorce.

'If a party is willing to go to the Court of Appeal to fight for a divorce, spending significant sums on the way, there is clearly no future for the marriage.

'It is beyond archaic that she should have to prove it to a judge. There is no good reason for a court to compel someone to stay married when they clearly do not want to be.'

She added: 'We must push forward with no-fault divorce and end ridiculous charades like this.' 

Mrs Owens, who is Dutch, could have to live next door until at least February 2020 because in England and Wales a couple must be separated for five years for a divorce to be allowed without the consent of both parties.

Last year Mrs Owens failed to persuade a family court judge in Oxford to allow her to divorce her 78-year-old husband Hugh and she has now taken her case to the Court of Appeal.

If Lord Justice Munby and the two other appeal judges overturn the decision it would be a landmark 'no fault' divorce case.

A friend, who did not wish to be named, told MailOnline: 'They're a lovely couple who we've known a long time.

'He's having a hard time of it of late and it's so sad that they live in separate houses. I guess it's true, money doesn't buy you happiness'. 

They have two grown up children, Katherine, 38, and Thomas, 36, who is also a director of his father's haulage company, which made a £451,000 profit in 2015.

Mr Owens, who describes himself as a 'Mushroom Growing Specialist', runs a successful fruit and vegetable growing company near Evesham with a £7.2million annual turnover. He and his wife are the two main shareholders.

The Owens' also have a property company and are said to own four homes between them.

But despite their business successes, Mrs Owens has had to go to court to try to free herself from her millionaire husband.

In what was described as an 'extraordinarily unusual' case, Tini Owens, 66, says she is 'locked' in a 39-year marriage with mushroom farmer Hugh Owens, 78.

She has taken her battle to the Court of Appeal following a previous hearing at which a judge said her husband's attitude towards the marriage was simply 'old school'.

Her lawyer is demanding a change in the law by introducing 'no-fault' divorces, where a spouse does not have to prove that his or her partner has done anything wrong.

Britain's top family judge, Sir James Munby, heard yesterday that the couple married in January 1978 but have been living apart since February 2015, when Mrs Owens moved out of the family home. She now lives in a nearby property jointly owned by the couple.

During their time together they built up a mushroom growing business that now turns over £7million and acquired four homes, including a £629,000 manor in Willersey, Gloucestershire, that is the matrimonial home. They have grown-up children.

The court heard that Mrs Owens had a year-long affair that ended in 2013 and she says that her husband's 'continued beratement' of her over the fling mounts to unreasonable behaviour. She says that she feels 'unloved, isolated and alone'.

Mrs Owens began court proceedings for a decree nisi, an order that can formally end a marriage unless there is a good reason not to grant a divorce. 

But the judge refused her request last year, describing Mr Owens' attitude towards the marriage as 'old school' and saying Mrs Owens was 'more sensitive than most wives'.

Mr Owens (pictured today), who describes himself as a 'Mushroom Growing Specialist', runs a successful fruit and vegetable growing company near Evesham with a £7.2million annual turnover Mr Owens (pictured today), who describes himself as a 'Mushroom Growing Specialist', runs a successful fruit and vegetable growing company near Evesham with a £7.2million annual turnover

Mr Owens (pictured today), who describes himself as a 'Mushroom Growing Specialist', runs a successful fruit and vegetable growing company near Evesham with a £7.2million annual turnover

Home: Mrs Owens, who married in January 1978, has been living in this neighbouring property in  Worcestershire since February 2015 Home: Mrs Owens, who married in January 1978, has been living in this neighbouring property in  Worcestershire since February 2015

Home: Mrs Owens, who married in January 1978, has been living in this neighbouring property in Worcestershire since February 2015

Committed: Mr Owens says they still have a few years left together and would like to stay married to her, even if that means he lives alone in his manor house (pictured) Committed: Mr Owens says they still have a few years left together and would like to stay married to her, even if that means he lives alone in his manor house (pictured)

Committed: Mr Owens says they still have a few years left together and would like to stay married to her, even if that means he lives alone in his manor house (pictured)

Under current law, a couple must be separated for five years for a divorce to be allowed without the consent of both parties.

DIVORCE: WHAT THE LAW STATES AND THE FIVE-YEAR RULE

The Owens' divorce case is rare because in most cases both parties agree to splitting up, even if they can't agree on the settlement.

In England and Wales the petitioner, Mrs Owens, must prove fault for an immediate divorce. 

'Fault' can include abusive behaviour or infidelity.  

But if fault cannot be proved the couple must separate for at least two years and then both agree to an official divorce. 

If one party does not agree to the divorce - Mr Owens - after two years the couple must be separated for at least five years before the separation alone will be enough to grant the petition. 

In a witness statement presented to yesterday's Court of Appeal hearing, Mrs Owens accused her husband of being 'insensitive' in his 'manner and tone'. 

She added: 'The simple fact is that I have been desperately unhappy in our marriage for many years. There is no prospect of reconciliation.'

Her barrister, Philip Marshall QC, said the 'vast majority' of divorces were undefended in 21st century England and added: 'It is extraordinarily unusual in modern times for a court to dismiss a petition for divorce.

'The wife, who is nearly 66, is now a 'locked in' wife. She cannot get divorced unless the husband changes his mind and agrees.'

Mrs Owens had made 27 allegations about the way Mr Owens treated her.

She said he was 'insensitive' in his 'manner and tone' and said she was 'constantly mistrusted' and felt unloved.

'The simple fact is that I have been desperately unhappy in our marriage for many years,' she said in a witness statement.

'There is no prospect of reconciliation.'

Mr Marshall said judges had to consider the 'cumulative effect' of what might be classed as a long list of trivial matters.

'It was my client's complaint that her husband treated her in a childlike way,' Mr Marshall told judges.

'And in a way which was effectively that she should agree with his will.'

He said she had been asked to help the housekeeper pick up pieces of cardboard which had blown over a lawn, been 'snapped at' in an airport queue and been subjected to 'stinging remarks' in a restaurant. 

Row: Mrs Owens says her husband is prone to sending 'stinging' remarks her wat - he says it is teasing and that his just has a loud voice Row: Mrs Owens says her husband is prone to sending 'stinging' remarks her wat - he says it is teasing and that his just has a loud voice
Row: Mrs Owens says her husband is prone to sending 'stinging' remarks her wat - he says it is teasing and that his just has a loud voice Row: Mrs Owens says her husband is prone to sending 'stinging' remarks her wat - he says it is teasing and that his just has a loud voice

Row: Mrs Owens says her husband is prone to sending 'stinging' remarks her way - he says it is teasing and that his just has a loud voice

Success: The couple run a successful mushroom business in Worcestershire and a haulage company run from the same giant site (pictured)  Success: The couple run a successful mushroom business in Worcestershire and a haulage company run from the same giant site (pictured) 

Success: The couple run a successful mushroom business in Worcestershire and a haulage company run from the same giant site (pictured) 

Mr Marshall added: 'They lived all of their lives in a traditional and old-fashioned way. He ran the business. She stayed at home.'

Mr Owens had talked of being a tease and said he had a loud voice, judges heard.

'I am somebody who teases my wife,' he had said during the litigation.

Evidence showed that Mr and Mrs Owens, who have grown-up children, had slept in different rooms for many years  Evidence showed that Mr and Mrs Owens, who have grown-up children, had slept in different rooms for many years 

Evidence showed that Mr and Mrs Owens, who have grown-up children, had slept in different rooms for many years 

'I do it all the time. I know she doesn't always appreciate it.' He had added: 'I have got a very loud voice. I talk in this way all the time.'

Barrister Nigel Dyer QC, who represented Mr Owens, said appeal judges should not overturn Judge Tolson's ruling.

Mr Dyer said Mrs Owens had not established that the marriage was irretrievably broken.

He added: 'At the moment, as the law stands, unhappiness, discontent, disillusionment are not facts which a petitioner can rely upon as facts which prove irretrievable breakdown.'

Judges were told that at one stage Mrs Owens had an affair which lasted less than a year.

They heard that she had contacted solicitors five years ago.

Evidence showed that Mr and Mrs Owens, who have grown-up children, had slept in different rooms for many years.

Judge Tolson had described Mr Owens as 'old school' and had said Mrs Owens was 'more sensitive than most wives'.

Sir James said the job of appeal judges was to 'apply the law'. He said they would examine legislation laid down by Parliament and told lawyers: 'It is not a ground for divorce if you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage – people may say it should be.'

They are expected to publish a ruling soon. Mr and Mrs Owens were approached for comment today.

JUDGE LOST HIS WIFE IN TRAGIC FALL ON THE SKI SLOPES

Judge Robin Tolson QC Judge Robin Tolson QC

Tragedy: Judge Robin Tolson pictured on holiday in Spain in 2008 with his wife Carol, who died following a skiiing accident in Austria

The judge who refused refused to grant Mrs Owens' divorce petition hit the headlines some six years ago when he suffered a personal tragedy. 

In 2011 Judge Robin Tolson lost his wife of 23 years in a skiing accident. 

Robin Tolson QC said his wife Carol was a good skier and had been wearing a ski helmet and described the incident as a 'desperately sad tragedy'.

Mrs Tolson, a former music teacher, died at the age of 55 after suffering severe head injuries when she lost control and fell on the slopes. 

She had been skiing on piste in the resort of Obergurgl in Austria with her husband just metres behind.

Mr Tolson helped her to her feet, but when she stood up she complained of a headache and collapsed in front of him.

The mother-of-two was taken to Innsbruck hospital, where she received specialist neurosurgical care.

Mrs Tolson never regained consciousness and died on March 2, seven days after the accident, having suffered bleeding in the brain. 

 

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