Hugh Owens said that he forgave his wife, Tini, for her affair, which meant she was not granted a divorceDOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA

A Supreme Court judge has criticised ministers for failing to reform divorce and cohabitation law, in a rare public outburst.

Lord Wilson of Culworth said that the law was in urgent need of updating to do away with the old-fashioned requirement of fault being apportioned in a divorce.

One of 11 justices on the UK’s highest court, Lord Wilson said that he and other family law experts were “very disappointed” that attempts in the mid-1990s to create a no-fault divorce system for England and Wales and the wider UK had failed.

Despite increasingly vocal campaigning from lawyers, successive governments have resisted calls to amend the law, meaning that blame must still be attached to one side when a marriage breaks down.

This month a woman…