It has been a decade since Parliament approved the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. The journey to legalise same-sex marriage in the UK occurred because people wanted fairness and equality. Prior to the change in law, same-sex couples could have civil partnerships, which offered some legal rights, but it was not to the same extent as marriage. LGBTQ+ activists, allies, and politicians campaigned for equal rights, working hard to make a difference.

What does civil partnership mean?

A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship between two individuals. Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can enter into civil partnerships. Prior to 2013, same-sex couples could not legally marry and so civil partnerships were their only option to receive the same legal rights as married couples.

But 10 years ago, this changed. Now couples have the option of a civil partnership or marriage, depending on which they prefer. Marriages are traditionally religious affairs and so if a couple does not identify with religious practices they can pursue a civil partnership instead. However both can be done to the preferences of the individuals involved.

A civil partnership involves the signing of a contract while a marriage involves vows and the signing of a certificate.

Same Sex Marriage

The Same Sex Marriage Act 2013 permits same-sex couples to legally marry in places like a registry office or an approved venue, just like straight couples. Then, in 2014, the law allowed existing civil partners to convert their partnership into a marriage if they wished to do so. Finally, in 2014, the UK made same-sex marriages legal in England, Wales, and Scotland.

Legalising same-sex marriage has had a positive impact on society in various ways. It has been a big step towards promoting equality and understanding for LGBTQ+ people and their relationships. Many people celebrated this change as a victory for love and human rights. The law has helped create a more inclusive and diverse society, where everyone’s love is recognised and valued equally. It sends a strong message that all loving couples, no matter their gender, deserve the same rights and opportunities.

The legal recognition of same-sex marriage has also provided important protections and benefits to same-sex couples. They now enjoy rights such as inheritance, pension, tax, access to healthcare, and social security benefits, equal to straight married couples. However, as the number of same-sex marriages increases, there is also a notable rise in the dissolution of marriages and civil partnerships. According to the Office for National Statistics, during 2021, 1,171 civil partnerships ended in divorce, and this number has consistently grown year after year.

Same Sex Divorce

The introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (2020), which introduced “no fault divorce” in April 2022, removed the requirement to cite a reason for the breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership. One notably change relevant to same sex marriages was the removal of the ground of adultery as a reason for the breakdown of the marriage.  Adultery as a ground for divorce referred to a sexual relationship between a married person and someone of the opposite sex who was not their spouse. Since this definition of adultery only applied to opposite-sex relationships, it meant that same-sex couples were unable to cite adultery as a ground for divorce. This created a discriminatory situation where same-sex couples did not have access to the same legal options and protections as opposite-sex couples when it came to divorce proceedings.

The introduction of the No Fault Divorce streamlines the process for divorce applications and arguably makes it easier for same-sex marriages to end in divorce and evolved the law to be more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community.

Divorce is a difficult time for anyone, and we believe it is important to seek support and advice from trusted professionals. At Hubbard Pegman and Whitney we support equal rights and inclusivity and remain committed to providing legal support and services to all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation. We seek to ensure that every client is treated with respect and fairness throughout the divorce process. If you are in need of a family lawyer, get in touch with us today. Currently, we are offering a free initial telephone consultation with our family team for new enquiries. During this call, we will tell you what we can do next to get started. Give our family solicitors a call now for a friendly chat on 020 8735 9770. Alternatively we can be contacted via email 










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