Same Sex Marriage and Divorce


same sex marriage and divorce

Since 2013 it has been legal for same sex couples to get married in England and Wales. The Marriage (same sex couples) Act 2013 is the law that introduced them, and the first same sex marriages took place on 29 March 2014.

The Act allows same sex couples who married abroad to be recognised as being married in England and Wales. Prior to the Act couples were seen as civil partners.

Since the Act came into force, there have been many same sex marriages, and some have led to divorce.

What the Act does

  • It allows same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies.
  • It enables religious organisations that wish to do so, to marry same sex couples.
  • It authorises civil partners to convert their partnership to a marriage.
  • It permits individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage.

What procedure applies to same sex married couples?

The divorce process is the same for same sex married couples as it is for heterosexual married couples. You can apply for a divorce on the grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and this is exactly the same for heterosexual couples.

The process is only different if you are in a civil partnership.

Before the No-Fault divorce

Prior to the no fault divorce, the party applying for the divorce would need to show the married had irretrievably broken down relying on certain facts.

The only difference between heterosexual married couples and same sex married couples getting divorced was that same sex couples could only rely on four facts to show the marriage had irretrievably broken down and heterosexual couples could rely on five.

To prove the marriage had irretrievably broken down, the applicant for a same sex marriage had to show one of the following:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years desertion
  • Two years of separation (and the other party consents to the divorce)
  • Five years separation (no consent required)

Post no Fault Divorce

Since April 2022 the no fault divorce has come into place. This allows couples including same sex couples to get divorced without having to show the marriage has broken down. Just providing a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is sufficient for the divorce to proceed.

The process for same sex couples is exactly the same as heterosexual couples. The couple must have been married for at least a year and an application can be made through the government divorce portal online where a court fee of £593.00 is payable.

What if I am in a Civil Partnership?

If you are in a civil partnership then you can end the partnership by applying for a Dissolution Order. The process is very similar to a divorce.

You need to have been in the civil partnership for at least 12 months, and you will need to prove that the partnership has irretrievably broken down using one of the four reasons mentioned above.

The court will consider your application and will issue the conditional order of dissolution if your partner agrees with the application. The conditional order means you are entitled to end the civil partnership. You must wait six weeks and one day from the date of the conditional order before you can apply for the Final Order. The Final Order legally ends the civil partnership.

How Andrew Isaacs Law can help

Here at Andrew Isaacs Law our expert lawyers can offer advice and support through this process. You can book a no obligation appointment for a fixed fee to receive tailored advice to you, consider your options and decide how you wish to move forward.   Contact us to arrange an appointment today.

Nicola Magrath – Family Law Solicitor

Find Nicola on LinkedIn here

Article Dated 18/01/2024

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