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Wife within rights to divorce husband due to work, High Court rules

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 15/06/2021 James Gant For Mailonline
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A wife was within her rights to divorce her tech consultant husband because he worked too much and missed holidays, the High Court has ruled.

Marion was clear to leave Charles Ayeh-Kumi from Farnborough, Hampshire, in 2018, the judge decided.

Mr Ayeh-Kumi told the court 'easy' divorce laws let his former partner split with him because he 'worked too much and never went on holiday'.

The 64-year-old argued her claim of 'unreasonable behaviour' had breached his human rights.

The estranged father-of-two, who has no legal training, claimed 'unreasonable behaviour' was not defined in law.

Government lawyers applied to the High Court to dismiss his claim of human rights, which were first brought into divorce laws in 2019.

Mr Ayeh-Kumi hit back with a counter-application of his own to get summary judgment in his favour.

But Master Victoria McCloud sided with the government and said Marion had not breached his human rights in their divorce, the Times reported.

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She found 'it is not a case which can proceed on the footing of a challenge to the human rights compliance of the judgments of judges in the divorce case itself'.

Mr Ayeh-Kumi told the court the Matrimonial Causes Act broke basic rule-of-law principles, the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said his ex-wife's unreasonable behaviour claims were that he 'worked too much' and 'didn't go on holiday' 20 years earlier.

In a statement she submitted during divorce proceedings, she wrote: 'My husband was absent from the home in the evenings and at weekends.

'[He] did not come on any family holidays when the children were growing up or come to any concert performances that the children took part in.'

But Mr Ayeh-Kumi insisted throughout their marriage there was no abuse, physical or otherwise and they were equal partners who made joint decisions.


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He also claimed his ex-wife was referring to holidays from more than 20 years ago - at a time when the couple were struggling to pay their mortgage.

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He said: 'I am a one-man band. If I don't work, I don't get paid.

'I admit that I missed a few family holidays, and that I made myself available to clients 24/7, over the weekends and late at night.

'That is how I differentiate myself from the bigger companies that do what I do, and how I secure myself more clients.

'We were struggling to pay our mortgage at the time. I needed to keep a roof over my wife and daughters' heads.'

Last week the government revealed divorce-on-demand reforms meant to sweep adultery from the statute books had been put off for at least six months.

The new divorce law – which will end a marriage without legal blame at the request of just one partner – was supposed to go into operation this autumn.

But the introduction of the no-fault process has run into 'a few technical issues' relating to moving the system online, the Ministry of Justice said.

Implementation of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, passed with Boris Johnson's blessing almost a year ago, has also been held up by Covid, it said.

A Ministry spokesman said: 'Our changes will help divorcing couples to resolve their issues amicably by ending the needless ''blame game'' that can exacerbate conflict and damage a child's upbringing.'

Following 'more detailed scoping work' on the new system, the MoJ 'now aims to implement the reforms on April 6 2022'.

Ministers say will ease conflict between divorcing couples and stop husbands or wives from blocking a divorce when the other partner wants one.

But the reforms have been heavily criticised by churches and by some lawyers who have said the changes will undermine marriage by devaluing the legal status of the institution, and that they will lead to a divorce boom similar to that which happened when current divorce laws were introduced at the beginning of the 1970s.

Critics also point out that the reforms will do nothing to lessen the arguments over property, money and children that mean a divorce often leads to a lifetime of bitterness for a couple and severe damage to the lives of their children.

The current 'quickie' divorce law dating from 1971 means that in England and Wales a couple can be divorced for reasons of fault, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour, or after a period of separation.

A couple can be divorced by agreement after two years apart, but only after five years if one declines to end the marriage.

A divorce under the current fault system of adultery or unreasonable behaviour typically takes around a year to complete.

The new system will set up a 20-week waiting time before the courts can agree the first formal stage of a divorce, the decree nisi.

Partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys William Longrigg told MailOnline: 'It is generally agreed amongst family lawyers that having to make allegations of adultery or unreasonable behaviour in the great majority of divorces is a waste of time and money.

'This decision demonstrates the ongoing challenge of defining the complex and ambiguous terms which serve as grounds for divorce in current law.

'While we look forward to the change in existing divorce laws, which will allow couples to divorce by providing a statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably rather than apportioning blame, it is a shame that these changes have been delayed until 6th April 2022.'

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