Same sex couples can marry from today...

Date online: 29/03/2014

After years of lobbying for equality, in December 2005, Parliament introduced legislation granting same sex couples the right to enter into civil partnerships. Such partnerships set out the rights and responsibilities of those who enter into them, their rights being analogous to those enjoyed by traditionally married couples.

On the 29th March 2014, the law in England and Wales was extended to grant same sex couples the right to marry. Those who have already entered into civil partnerships can choose to “upgrade” their relationship to marriage and a new procedure to facilitate this is likely to be introduced by the end of the year.

In the event of a civil partnership breaking down, where the parties have not married, they do not divorce, instead their civil partnership is dissolved. The only ground for dissolution is irretrievable breakdown which is the same ground as for a divorce. To prove the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage a person who petitions for divorce must establish one of five facts ranging from unreasonable behaviour, adultery and periods of separation. The only difference with civil partners is that they cannot rely upon adultery.

We advise and support clients through divorce or civil partnership dissolution, in negotiations leading to financial settlements and in helping to resolve disputes affecting children of the family.

Except in very limited circumstances Legal Aid is no longer available for parties whose relationship has broken down. We have therefore introduced a fixed fee for a standard divorce or a civil partnership dissolution of only £910.00 plus VAT but including all court fees

Legal aid is also no longer available for financial proceedings ancillary to divorce or upon the dissolution of a civil partnership despite the complexity of such proceedings. When considering the financial aspects of either a divorce or a civil partnership dissolution, the court takes into account the same factors. These include each party’s needs, their income/capital, standard of living, age, the duration of the marriage or civil partnership, their respective contributions, their conduct and any disability issues. Our experienced advisers have helped many clients to achieve a successful outcome of financial proceedings and they would be happy to discuss fees and, if appropriate, arrange payment plans.

There are those who are hostile to the idea but pre nuptial agreements are now available and we recommend that prior to entering into a marriage or civil partnership advice is sought about their benefits because if prepared carefully they can help to reduce disputes in the unfortunate event of a relationship breaking down.

If you would like to speak to a solicitor in the family department please call 01706 356666. After an initial chat we can arrange a free first interview.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Molesworths Bright Clegg is a firm of solicitors established in the United Kingdom and is registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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