A WOMAN who wants to divorce her husband of nearly 40 years has lost the latest round of an "extraordinarily unusual" court fight.

Tini Owens, who lived in Broadway, had failed to persuade a family court judge to allow her to divorce husband Hugh Owens.

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

Mrs Owens then 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 Valentine's Day and dismissed Mrs Owens' appeal on Friday.

Appeal judges were told that Mrs Owens, 66 and Mr Owens, 78, had married in 1978 and lived in Broadway, Worcestershire.

A barrister representing Mrs Owens told the appeal court that the ''vast majority'' of divorces were undefended in 21st century England.

Philip Marshall QC said it was "extraordinarily unusual in modern times" for a judge to dismiss a divorce petition.

Sir James said: "We cannot interfere with Judge Tolson's decision and refuse the wife the decree of divorce she sought."

Mr Marshall said Mrs Owens' case was that her husband had behaved unreasonably and that the marriage had irretrievably broken down.

Mr Owens, a retired businessman, disagreed and denied allegations made against him.

He was against a divorce and said they still had a ''few years'' to enjoy, appeal judges were told.

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.

Judge Tolson had ruled against Mrs Owens after analysing the case at a family court hearing in London.

He had concluded that her allegations were ''of the kind to be expected in marriage'' and refused to grant a divorce petition.

Mrs Owens said she had been left in a "wretched predicament" - locked in a "loveless and desperately unhappy" marriage.

But Sir James said Judge Tolson had correctly concluded that the marriage had not "in law" irretrievably broken down.

Sir James added: "Parliament has decreed that it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage, though some people may say it should be."

Another appeal judge, Lady Justice Hallett, said: "It is for Parliament to decide whether to amend (the law) and to introduce 'no fault' divorce on demand; it is not for the judges to usurp their function."

Appeal judges announced their decision in a written ruling.