Update from Atifha Aftab, Family Solicitor
In 2013, Parliament passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act which introduced civil marriage for same-sex couples in England and Wales with the first same sex marriage taking place in 2014. 1-30 June 2023 marks Pride Month which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community to raise awareness of the issues faced, celebrate the work and lives of LGBTQ+ and educate the public about LGBTQ+ history. We shared an update in June 2022 which can be accessed here.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act allows same sex couples to marry in civil and religious ceremonies. It enables civil partners to convert their partnership to a marriage and married individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage. However, with the rise in same sex marriages also comes a rise in the dissolution of civil partnerships. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 1,171 civil partnerships that ended in divorce during 2021 and the number has grown year on year.
There are occasions where a civil partnership or same sex marriage breaks down irretrievably and the parties seek a divorce or dissolution. Since the implementation of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (2020), the “no fault divorce” in April 2022, the removal of the requirement to cite a reason for the breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership streamlines the process for divorce applications and arguably makes it easier for same sex marriages to end in divorce. It is important to note the introduction of the no fault divorce has modernised the process and made it more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community; same sex couples were previously unable to cite adultery as the reason for the breakdown of the relationship. Same-sex couples can get a no fault divorce in the exact same way as heterosexual couples. The divorce process will be identical, with neither type of couple needing to go into detail about the breakdown of their marriage.
The Grant Saw family solicitors are friendly and knowledgeable, on hand to support the LGBTQ+ community on a range of matters from entering or dissolving a civil partnership, advising on financial settlements, cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements, and advising on any legal issues involving children or forming a family.