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An Introduction to Same Sex Marriage

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Over the last two decades, the law on marriage and civil partnerships has evolved, so that there can now be homosexual marriage, homosexual civil partnerships, heterosexual marriage and heterosexual civil partnerships.

In July 2013, the Government passed the Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Act 2013, making same sex marriage legal in England and Wales from 13th March 2014. The first same sex marriage took place on 29th March 2014. Since then, same sex marriage has been legalised in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. 1,409 same sex marriages took place in the first month, between 29th March and 30th June 2014.

How common is same sex marriage?

Since the introduction of same sex marriage, there have been over 40,000 same sex marriages, and over 82,000 civil partnerships since these became law on 5th December 2005. Of these, 69,000 are same-sex couples. Heterosexual couples were able to form civil partnerships from December 2019.

What is the same sex divorce rate?

Of those 82,000 civil partnerships, 11,400 have ended in dissolution. Meanwhile, same sex divorce rates have shown a gradual increase;

  • 428 in 2018
  • 822 in 2019
  • 1,154 in 2020 and;
  • 1,571 in 2021

This does not mean that more same sex marriages are ending in same sex divorce, simply that there are now more married same sex couples.

What are the rules for same sex divorce and civil partnership dissolution?

The rules for same sex divorce and civil partnership dissolution are now effectively the same, with no difference from those for opposite sex couples.

The final real substantial difference was removed in April 2022 with the introduction of ‘no-fault divorce.’ Prior to this, it was necessary to cite an accepted reason for a divorce or dissolution in the application. For divorce, one of these reasons was adultery, however, this was classified as infidelity with someone of the opposite sex, so was not normally applicable for most same sex couples. For civil partnership dissolutions, adultery was not an accepted reason.

The introduction of ‘no-fault divorce’ removed the need to give a reason for a divorce or civil partnership dissolution, thus removing this final distinction between same sex and opposite sex couples, and between divorce and civil partnership dissolution.

In order to end a marriage or civil partnership, either one or both parties can file on the grounds of the ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage’ without the need to provide a reason for this.

Do you need a solicitor for same sex divorce or civil partnership dissolution?

If you are thinking of issuing divorce or dissolution proceedings it is important you get independent legal advice to ensure a fair financial settlement. Our experienced family team will be able to guide you through the divorce or dissolution process, as well as advising you on the division of the matrimonial / civil partnership assets.

It is important to note that although the law may be similar, the circumstances and application of law will be different in each case.

Finalising a divorce or dissolution does not end your ex-partner’s financial claim. You should ensure you get legal advice on a legally binding financial settlement and the division of the assets. Our team will be able to advise on pension and capital division and income / maintenance claims, as well as arrangements for any children of the family.

Although the law may be similar for same and opposite sex couples, our solicitors appreciate that every family and person is different, and we will always treat you as an individual. Our experienced family law solicitors will provide understanding, supportive advice based on your individual circumstances.

Get in touch with our family law solicitors

Our family law solicitors can advise clients nationwide from our offices in Bournemouth, Chandler’s Ford, Poole, Winchester and Woking.

To arrange an initial consultation, you can contact your nearest office using the links above or fill in our quick enquiry form and we will get back to you soon.