Richard Perrins - Partner, Coles Miller

Same-Sex Weddings: Dissolution Of Civil Partnerships12th Mar 2014

Tomorrow (13 March 2014) is the deadline for giving formal notice if you want to be one of the first couples in Britain to have a same-sex wedding.Richard Perrins - Partner, Coles Miller

Get the paperwork approved today and you could be walking down the aisle on Saturday March 29.

Before now the closest option was a civil partnership – which Equalities Minister Helen Grant has promised can be converted to a same-sex marriage by the end of the year.

If the latest changes have crept up on you unexpectedly, don’t worry – same-sex weddings were originally scheduled for June 2015 (but that would have been after the May 2015 election).

Same-sex marriages are supposed to give couples exactly the same rights as those in mixed-sex marriages.

However, we have already spotted an important legal question that requires clarification.

Mixed-sex couples can divorce on the grounds of adultery. But adultery is legally defined as occurring between protagonists of the opposite sex – not the same sex.

So the legal definition of adultery needs to be updated if same-sex couples are to have precisely the same rights as mixed-sex couples.

Logically, it’s only a matter of time before that happens – otherwise where is the sense of equality that is supposed to underpin the new same-sex weddings legislation?

Sadly not all marriages last and the new same-sex ones are likely to be no different. Our family team has already helped some clients to dissolve their civil partnerships.

We would advise any couples looking to marry – same-sex or mixed-sex – to think about what could happen over the long term.

Prenuptial agreements are a useful legal tool that can help to make divorce or dissolution less painful should the marriage or partnership not work out.

While politicians, legal commissioners and the media are still busily discussing prenups and postnups, the reality is that judges do take these agreements into account when considering how to deal with finances in the event of separation.

Judges currently view prenups and postnups as enforceable, provided that certain ‘boxes have been ticked’.

How much weight the judges give these agreements depends on various factors, such as whether legal advice was taken by both parties.

For further information about family law, please contact our family team on 01202 673011.

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