In this article, we’ll take you through what you need to know about LGBT marriage and divorce in the UK.
Understanding the law surrounding same sex marriages can be confusing for some. However, it’s important to recognise that since 2013 under the Same Sex Couples Act, that same sex couples can legally get married including within a religious ceremony.
Whilst it’s amazing for the LGBTQ+ community that they can now have a legal marriage, unfortunately for some it means an equal legal divorce and all that comes with it. Eastbourne family lawyers can help couples in the UK looking to end their civil partnership or divorce, as it has the same legal footing as heterosexual marriages.
Over 15,000 same sex marriages have taken place and around 112 of these marriages end in divorce every year. In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about LGBT marriage and divorce in 2022.
What is an LGBT Marriage?
A LGBT marriage is a legal contract between members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual community. Prior to 2014, members of the LGBT community were able to gain a civil partnership but not an actual, traditionally recognised marriage.
The new law in the UK now allows for same sex couples to marry and to enjoy the same marriage benefits as heterosexual couples, including many tax and financial benefits.
How to Get Married as a Same Sex Couple
For the most part, the process of getting married for same sex couples is largely the same as that of heterosexual couples – which is as follows:
- Find a venue and check availability.
- Register your marriage with your local council – check availability of a registrar for your ceremony.
- Conduct a wedding ceremony either at the council registry office or at a venue of your choice. During the ceremony, you will exchange vows and subsequently be issued a marriage certificate which certifies that you are legally married.
One thing to keep in mind is that although same sex marriage is legal in the UK, some Catholic churches will not allow these ceremonies. If you wish to have a church wedding, you will need to check with your local vicar or priest.
Although there has been the odd case of a same sex couple attempting to sue a church for refusing to marry them, this is unlikely to be successful as the law states that a vicar or priest cannot be forced to marry any couple, heterosexual or same sex, if they choose not to.
How Does LGBT Divorce Work?
If a relationship breaks down after you are legally married, you may choose to separate and live apart. If, however, you wish to marry somebody else you will need to get a divorce.
The introduction of the no-fault divorce has made the process more straightforward for both LGBT and heterosexual couples who wish to divorce amicably. The new law states that you may gain a divorce without having to claim a mitigating factor, such as infidelity, without having to wait a significant amount of time.
You are able to gain a divorce if you have been married for a year or longer and the first step is to make a divorce application online. This will cost £593 but financial help may be available if you are on benefits. Once you have made an application, a copy of this will be sent to your spouse. Once applications have been submitted, a decision will be made.
What Happens to Shared Assets, Children and Pets?
If you and your partner have shared assets such as a family home, savings and pensions then these will need to be divided. This can all be done amicably between the two partners, but in some cases both parties may need to hire the services of a solicitor to help them to reach a fair settlement.
Prior to the marriage some couples choose to create a prenuptial agreement, this is a document which lays out the terms of who gets what if a divorce occurs and under what circumstances.
While not the most romantic gesture, a prenuptial agreement or ‘prenup’ can make things a lot more straightforward in the event of a divorce. A family solicitor will help you to write up a prenuptial agreement to be held in the event of the marriage breaking down.
If there are children, for example adopted children, involved in a divorce between a same sex couple then custody of those children will need to be ascertained. If the couple is unable to come to an amicable agreement regarding custody, then they will need to hire the services of family solicitors and this may result in a decision being made by the courts. You may go here to find out more about child custody.
In the same vein, a decision will need to be made about any shared household pets.
What you need to know about LGBT divorce…
Any marriage, whether it’s between a heterosexual couple or a same sex couple should never be entered into lightly. A marriage involves a number of factors including making decisions as a partnership, shared assets and shared debts.
Same sex legal marriage is a great step forward for the UK. It’s an important step for moving equal rights forward and allows members of the LGBTQ+ community the same rights that heterosexual couples have always enjoyed.
Sadly, just like with heterosexual couples, a same sex marriage can break down and it’s extremely important to know what you’re getting into in terms of gaining a divorce should the relationship fail.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on divorce. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.