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Same Sex Marriage 


The divorce process for same sex marriages is broadly the same. The only difference is that the “adultery” ground for divorce is not available to same sex couples. This is because the legal definition for “adultery” is when one spouse commits adultery with another person of the opposite sex. However, “adultery,” as perceived in same sex marriages, can be incorporated into the “unreasonable behaviour” petition as evidence of behaviour that was not acceptable within the marriage.


Annulment.

Marriages, of the opposite sex or same sex, can be annulled to suggest that the marriage should not have taken place as there was a technical fault (known as a “void” marriage) or the marriage did take place but it was not a “marriage” in the eyes of the law (known as “voidable”). The Petitioner must prove that the marriage falls into one of those two categories. A same sex marriage cannot be “voidable” on the ground of wilful refusal to consummate the marriage or by reason of incapacity.


Financial Settlement / Court Orders.

Parties to a same sex marriage can also apply to the Court for Financial Order, in the same way that opposite sex spouses can.

Civil partnerships.

Registration of Civil Partnership.

Couples can register their Civil Partnership at any authorised Registry. Each party to the Partnership must be of the same sex, not already married or a Civil Partner, over 16 years of age, not within prohibited degrees of the relationship and lived in England and Wales seven days prior to giving notice of registration.


They must sign a Partnership document in the presence of each other, two witnesses and the Registrar. These people must, in turn, also sign the document to make the Partnership legally binding.


Legal Rights for Civil Partners.

Once registered, Civil Partners will have certain legal rights:

• A legal duty to provide maintenance for their Civil Partner and any children of the family.

• The right to be treated as next of kin in all kinds of legal situations i.e. the hospital.

• Apply for Fatal Accidents Compensation.

• To be treated the same as married heterosexual couples for the purposes of all taxation laws and life assurance.

• To be treated the same as married heterosexual couples for the purposes of Wills, intestacy and inheritance laws.

• Apply for the same remedies as married heterosexual couples under domestic abuse legislation.

• Recognition of the relationship for the purposes of immigration and nationality.


This list is not exhaustive and specialist legal advice should be sought for further information.

Dissolution of a Civil Partnership.


A Civil Partnership can be dissolved by way of a Dissolution Order, Nullity Order, Presumption of Death Order or Separation Order.


The grounds for dissolution - are the same as for divorce in that one can cite unreasonable behaviour, two years separation, five years separation or two years desertion.


Financial Provision when a Civil Partnership is dissolved.

Civil Partners can request the Court to make the following financial Orders:

• The transfer of a property and/or tenancy.

• The sale of a property.

• To order a lump sum.

• To earmark or split a pension.

• Verify any financial agreement made before a marriage.

• Place a Legal Charge over a property.

• Maintenance for either spouse or child/dependant.


The Courts will use the same legal factors in financial settlements, to decide what is fair in a Civil Partnership dispute.

Children and Civil Partners.

Civil Partnership laws have made significant amendments to existing Children Act laws.


Civil Partners can:

• Acquire Parental Responsibility.

• Appoint a Guardian, if they have Parental Responsibility.

• Apply for child maintenance and contact the Child Maintenance Service.

• Adopt children.

• Apply for Children Arrangement Orders, and Prohibited Steps and Specific Issues Orders.

Again, this list is not exhaustive and further legal advice should be sought.

Contact us for more information.