2014 has been a historic year so far in regards to family law following the Government announcement about gay marriage. In January, Culture Secretary Maria Miller declared that the first same sex marriages in England and Wales can take place from 29 March 2014, several months earlier than originally anticipated.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 progressed through parliament and was awarded royal assent in July 2013 although it was not anticipated that initial same sex marriage ceremonies would take be conducted until the early months of summer in 2014.
Same sex marriage will bestow no supplementary privileges as experienced by coupled under current civil partnerships rights, it is a giant leap towards appropriately recognizing the parity of committed homosexual relationships in our modern society. On many levels, it’s essential that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, have the ability to validate their devotion to their partner in the same way heterosexual couples have been able to for centuries.
The ushering in of same sex marriage actually introduces an unusual legal glitch in which gay couples will have additional options made available to them versus straight couples. Gay couples have the ability to decide between civil partnerships and marriage from March 2014, while straight couples remain with just marriage as the sole legal way of formalising their relationship. Often, this means straight couples falling into the various legal snares around co-habitation in the misunderstanding that they automatically gain legal entitlements.
There is also a technical disparity between the dissolution of civil partnership and divorce; a civil partnership can’t be dissolved on the grounds of adultery as the current law defines adultery as “voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other but one or both of whom is or are married”. This distinction will pertain to same sex marriages although the context and verbiage needs to be amended to keep up with modern developments.
Additionally, same sex marriages performed under foreign law will be acknowledged as a legally binding marriages in England and Wales, although foreign civil partnerships will be considered as civil partnerships in England and Wales.
If you are confused about the legal implications of same sex marriage and civil partnerships, our specialist lawyers based in our Altrincham, Cheshire offices can talk you through your options and help you to decide which option would be the right decision for your circumstances. We can also help arrange pre-nuptial agreements to give you piece of mind before entering into either agreement. Please contact us on 0845 548 1007 for a free 20 minute consultation.