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This article was published on May 19th, 2021
The law does differ in relation to same-sex marriages and civil partnerships. Whilst a civil partnership can often be described as “gay marriage” there is a distinct difference between the two.
Since 2005 same-sex couples were able to enter into a Civil Partnership after the Civil Partnership Act was passed in 2004. A civil partnership is a civil union between the couple and it is a legally registered relationship that can offer similar rights to those of a same-sex marriage i.e. with regard to pensions, tax and parental responsibility for a child.
A marriage is formed by vows whereas a civil partnership is formed by the signing of a civil partnership document. A civil partner cannot call themselves married for legal reasons and this can have bearing on documentation signed to describe the status of the relationship.
In a civil partnership if the relationship breaks down you would apply to the court for permission to dissolve the partnership and the court would either make a separation order or a dissolution order. As with divorce, you have to show that the partnership has broken down irretrievably and to apply the grounds for divorce on one of the four facts which back it up. As with divorce, you cannot rely on the fact of adultery unless it is of the opposite sex.
Since 2014 same-sex couples were able to marry after The Marriage (Same-sex couples ) Act was passed in 2013 and its purpose was to put couples on the same legal footing as a heterosexual couple.
It is worth noting that a civil partnership can be converted into a marriage under The Marriage of Same-sex couples (Conversion of Civil Partnership) Regulations 2014.
Of course, the incoming no-fault divorce will make ending a marriage more straight forward and similar changes are to come into effect around the dissolution of the civil partnership.
As with any breakdown in a relationship, it is recommended that you seek advice from an experienced family solicitor. This is not only important to ensure that your relationship is legally brought to an end but to ensure that all issues are addressed such as the children and financial issues.
Children that you have within a same-sex marriage are considered in exactly the same way as a child from a heterosexual marriage. Financial matters will also be subject to the same rules and principles as that of any heterosexual marriage.
If you require any advice on gay marriage, civil partnerships or the breakdown of your relationship, please contact us to book a free initial consultation.