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‘Gay divorce’ tests civil partnership law

Solicitors in London

News article published on: 20th June 2012

A case at the Court of Appeal over the splitting of a gay couple’s £4 million assets has made headlines due to the couple’s financial situation.

Peter Lawrence, a city analyst and Don Gallagher a stage actor, made the decision to dissolve their civil partnership after seven months, although the couple had been together for eleven years prior to entering the civil partnership.

The court awarded Mr Gallagher £1.7 million on the dissolution of the partnership, most of which would come from the value of the central London flat they once shared.

Mr Lawrence who earns approximately £400,000 per year and who was by far the higher earner has appealed claiming the flat should not be included in the settlement.

Counsel for Mr Lawrence argued that he bought the London flat just before the couple met and should not be treated as a shared asset. The flat which was bought for £650,000 is now worth £2.4 million.

The barrister for Mr Lawrence told the court: “This was of course a civil partnership rather than a marriage and although the same principles apply, it is a simple truth that in a homosexual relationship it is more likely that the couple will not have children, and that they will therefore each continue to pursue their careers throughout the partnership, as they did before”.

Counsel for Mr Gallagher responded claiming that while he had joined the relationship with no more than £40,000 of his own assets he had performed a “major domestic and home-making role” in the relationship. It was argued that Mr Gallagher had “helped to create and maintain a lovely home in the flat in various ways including improvement of layout, fixtures and redecoration..

Without including the flat in the assets to be split, Mr Gallagher would be entitled to around £620,000. A decision by the Court of Appeal is expected later this year.

This case is of interest as it will set a precedent in the settling of financial issues when dissolving civil partnerships.

For advice on entering or dissolving a civil partnership, entering into a pre-nuptial agreement or if you are seeking a divorce contact the family and divorce department at Osbornes by:

The family department at Osbornes is recommeded and ranked by independent legal directories Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.  Our specialist family lawyers in London advise on all aspects of family lawincluding divorce law.

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