The end of any relationship is likely to be stressful and difficult at times, even if the partners remain on good terms. When a civil partnership or same sex marriage is involved, seeking expert advice from specialists in the field, like the Palmers family law team in Essex, is a sensible step to help ensure informed decisions can be made and satisfactory outcomes achieved.
To bring a same sex marriage to an end, through divorce, or to end a civil partnership through dissolution, the marriage or civil partnership must have lasted for at least a year. Either partner can apply to the courts for a divorce or dissolution on the ground that the relationship has broken down irretrievably, which must be supported by one of four reasons, or facts:
- unreasonable behaviour
- desertion for a period of two years or more
- two years’ separation, with the partner’s consent
- five years’ separation, without the partner’s consent.
For gay couples, adultery does not exist as one of the reasons for divorce or dissolution because this is legally defined as sex with someone of the opposite sex outside marriage. If one party has been unfaithful during the relationship, this could fall into the category of unreasonable behaviour.
A judge will consider the application and if it is accepted, they will then grant a conditional order (for civil partnerships) or decree nisi (in divorces). The final order or decree absolute is applied for six weeks later and once granted, the civil partnership or marriage is legally brought to an end.
The court will only grant the final order when the judge agrees that all arrangements for any children are satisfactory. Any financial order will also only come into force after the decree has been made final.
The divorce or dissolution can take as little as four to six months from beginning to end, if both parties are agreed, make arrangements quickly and court processes are efficient.
From April, 2014, gay and other couples seeking a divorce or dissolution are required to have at least attempted mediation as an alternative to going to court to resolve children-related or financial issues..
While some gay couples may be able to settle their arrangements in this way, for most people working with experienced family law practitioners, like the Palmers team, is a sensible step that will ensure they fully understand their legal position, enabling them to make informed decisions, and have expert support in negotiating settlements.
For more information on our same sex marriage and civil partnership legal services, please contact Palmers’ family law team in Essex.