If a same-sex couple wish to formalise their relationship then they have two options: to enter into a civil partnership, or to get married.
A civil partnership gives legal recognition to same-sex relationships, putting the civil partners in a similar legal position to married couples.
A civil partnership is formed by having the partnership registered. The formalities and procedure are not dissimilar to those for marriage.
Civil partnerships may be dissolved in the same way as marriages, save that the term ‘dissolution order’ is used instead of ‘divorce’. The grounds for a dissolution order are the same as for divorce, save that a civil partner may not rely upon adultery to prove that the civil partnership has broken down irretrievably. The procedure is similar to that for divorce.
As with marriage, civil partnerships can be annulled. It is also possible to obtain a ‘separation order’, which is the equivalent of judicial separation between spouses.
When a civil partnership is terminated, the court can make the same financial orders as it can when a marriage is terminated. The factors that the court takes into account when deciding what orders to make are similar, and the procedure is much the same.
Since March 2014 it has also been possible for same-sex couples to get married.
A same-sex marriage can be dissolved in the same way as an opposite-sex marriage. However, it should be noted that only conduct between the respondent to the divorce and a person of the opposite sex may constitute adultery for the purposes of divorce. Accordingly, if the respondent had sex with someone of the same sex that would not be adultery, although it would be unreasonable behaviour.
The court can make the same financial orders on the dissolution of a same-sex marriage as it can on the dissolution of an opposite-sex marriage.
For further advice contact Family Law Café by clicking the Contact link above and filling in the form, or by calling us on 020 3904 0506.