The Same-Sex Divorce Process19 Oct 2021 | Claire Andrews
What Happens When a Same-Sex Relationship Breaks Down?
Recent news of Rylan Clark-Neal and Dan Neal’s divorce after failing to salvage their six-year marriage shows that sadly, sometimes things go wrong and couples decide to end their relationships.
For married couples to do this, they need to apply for divorce in the usual way. The process is different for civil partners who need to apply for a dissolution of their civil partnership.
How do you get divorced as a same-sex couple?
In the eyes of the law, same-sex marriage is exactly the same as opposite-sex marriage. When the relationship breaks down, either party can apply for a divorce on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. To prove this, the applicant has to show:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years desertion
- Two years of separation (and the other party consents to the divorce)
- Five years separation (no consent required)
The main difference between a same-sex divorce and an opposite-sex divorce is that a same-sex couple can only rely on four facts when applying for a divorce, not five. This is because ‘adultery’ has a specific legal definition including heterosexual sex.
You can still use the infidelity of your spouse as a reason for the divorce, however, you would just use it as an example of unreasonable behaviour.
However, the new no-fault divorce laws are soon to come into effect. There will no longer be a requirement to state one of the four (or five for an opposite-sex divorce) facts and instead, either one or both spouses make a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down and the divorce can then progress in the usual way (with slightly different terminology). The new legislation is due to come into effect in Spring 2022. Read our step-by-step guide on getting divorced.
The process for divorce is exactly the same regardless of whether you are a same-sex couple or an opposite sex-couple. To start proceedings, the couple must have been married for at least a year and one party must file a divorce petition via the online divorce portal.
How do you dissolve a civil partnership?
In England and Wales, you end a civil partnership by applying for a ‘dissolution order’. The process is virtually identical to the divorce process. You’ll need to have been in the civil partnership for at least 12 months before applying for a dissolution, and you’ll have to prove that the relationship has broken down irretrievably using one of the four reasons listed above.
If your partner agrees to the dissolution of your civil partnership, the court will review the papers and make a Conditional Order of dissolution. The conditional order is like a Decree Nisi [link] in divorce. It shows that you are legally entitled to end the civil partnership.
After the Conditional Order is made, you must wait six weeks and one day (43 days) before you can apply for a Final Order. This legally ends the civil partnership in the same way that a Decree Absolute legally ends a marriage.
Claire Andrews is a specialist divorce lawyer with a particular emphasis on complex high net worth cases often involving a trust element. She is also featured in The Legal 500 as a recommended lawyer.
To speak with Claire, please call, or complete an online enquiry form.
"Claire Andrews is an associate to watch. Tenacious, diligent, professional and astute. She is very impressive."
Divorce InsightsVIEW ALL
What are the rules on pension sharing?
Pensions are one of the biggest assets of a marriage, yet many people are uncertain about whether they are entitled...Read more
What is a transfer of equity?
Transfer of equity in divorce Transfer of equity refers to the process of transferring part or all of a property...Read more
5 ways to avoid Court during a divorce
In 2020, there were 103,592 divorces granted in England and Wales (ONS statistics). The Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane, who is President...Read more
Proposed Capital Gains Tax Rule Changes Could Reduce...
The government has proposed a number of changes to the capital gains tax (CGT) rules which, if enacted, will come...Read more
Couples struggling to agree divorce settlements amid cost...
The cost of living crisis and uncertainty about future mortgage rates are scuppering divorce negotiations as couples fear reaching financial...Read more
Elon Musk affair rumours highlight the many benefits...
Elon Musk hit the headlines recently, denying rumours that he had an affair with the wife of Google cofounder Sergey...Read more
My ex has cut me off during divorce
Unfortunately, it is far too common that when a client says it’s over, their spouse with the “purse strings”...Read more
How the Court views loans from parents during...
A frequent issue in financial divorce cases is a loan from a spouse’s parent, often to pay legal fees,...Read more
Mesher Orders Explained
What is a Mesher order? A Mesher Order allows the sale of the family home to be postponed in a...Read more
The End of The Blame Game!
No-fault divorce will make divorce more amicable The divorce ‘blame game’ has been consigned to history and the long-awaited reforms...Read more
Divorcing couples reaching financial settlement through Private FDR
The Runaway Advantages of the Private FDR Our specialist lawyers are keen to ensure our divorcing clients achieve cost-effective outcomes...Read more
10 Interesting Facts About Same Sex Marriage and Divorce
Eight years after same-sex marriage was written into law, we’re taking a look at these major life events by...Read more
No-Fault Divorce Has Arrived!
Have you heard that breakup rates were exploding during the pandemic? New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)...Read more
In England and Wales, there are three key stages to the divorce process: The Divorce Petition The Decree Nisi The...Read more
Divorce applications shut down from 31 March 2022
From last year all divorce petitions in England and Wales were to be submitted to the court using the court...Read more
Are irreconcilable differences grounds for divorce?
If you have come across this article it may have been as a result of an online search to see...Read more
Negotiating financial settlements in divorce
Costly and acrimonious divorces: a lesson in what not to do If you’re determined to pursue your financial claims...Read more
Reasons for divorce. Which is right for us?
In England and Wales, there is only one legal ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has broken down...Read more
Uncovering hidden assets in your divorce
Hiding Assets During a Divorce As part of your divorce, you and your ex will have to agree on how...Read more
Difference between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute
The divorce process will, for many people, mean an introduction to some new terminology. Two of the most important terms...Read more
Keeping social media out of divorce proceedings
We’ve recently seen the playing out on twitter and Instagram of the high-profile separation of actor Ioan Gruffudd and...Read more
I helped build my spouse’s career
What is the impact on our divorce settlement? It’s been almost two years since The Da Vinci Code author...Read more
How to speed up a divorce
6 steps to speed up the divorce process For many people, once they have made the decision that their marriage is...Read more
6 cases that shape your divorce settlement
Part of what makes our divorce lawyers experts in their field is knowing what way a judge is likely to...Read more