family law

Marriage and the Same Sex Couples Act

Good news for same sex couples.

The Same Sex Couples Act 2013 comes into force on 13th March 2014. The Act makes same sex marriages legal in England and Wales.

You will have to wait a little longer though, as the first marriages will take place on 29th March 2014.

Converting a civil partnership

What if you are already in a civil partnership?

More good news.

Section 9 of the Act will also allow civil partnerships to be converted into marriages. This comes into force at the end of 2014.

Current civil partnership legislation offers the same rights and duties as civil marriage. However, a civil partnership is a purely administrative procedure whereas the saying of vows is a legal requirement in a marriage ceremony.

The introduction of Same Sex Marriage therefore removes the discrimination between the two.

Take care with your finances

In the event of a breakdown in the relationship, the same remedies will be available to those in a same sex marriage, heterosexual marriage or civil partnership.

However, on death there remains a discrepancy which the Government will need to review.

Currently, a spouse of the same sex and a civil partner will be limited as to the amount of pension they will receive upon the death of their partner. The Government must review the situation by 1 July 2014 and further legislation on this area is expected.

More choice

When the Act is in force, those in same sex relationships will have a choice which heterosexual partners do not have.

Unlike civil partnership the concept of a common law spouse is not recognised in law. It is therefore likely that at some point civil partnership will become unavailable with same sex marriage then being the only option.

Taking precautions

As with heterosexual couples, it is important for those in a same sex relationship to consider how they may wish to divide their finances in the event of divorce or separation.

A Pre-Nuptial Agreement can offer valuable protection in this regard.

Let us help

If any further information is required on any of the areas discussed above, please contact Kathryn Ferris on 0121 705 7571 or email kathrynferris@wallacerobinson.co.uk

Further reading:

Pre-nuptial Agreements (Family Law)

Why should I make a Will? (Wills & Probate)

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