If you are in a same sex relationship and you feel that the relationship has come to an end, there are various options available to you. For ending a same sex relationship, the separation process largely depends on whether you are cohabiting, in a civil partnership or married.
The law for cohabiting same sex couples is the same as the law for cohabiting opposite sex couples. There is no formal process required to end the relationship, however you may require legal advice on how you deal with shared property upon separation. If you are selling a property or one party is buying out the other, you may wish to enter into a separation agreement to record what has been agreed between you.
Couples in a civil partnership
If you are in a civil partnership and want to bring your relationship to an end you will need to get permission from the court who can either move forward with a Separation Order (if the civil partnership has lasted less than 12 months) or a Dissolution Order.
The dissolution process is similar to the process for a married couple in that you must prove to the court that the civil partnership has broken down irretrievably on one of the following facts:
- The respondent’s unreasonable behaviour.
- 2 years’ separation with the respondent’s consent.
- Five years’ separation.
- Desertion by the respondent for a period in excess of 2 years.
It is important to note that the fact of adultery is not available to you if you are dissolving a civil partnership.
The procedure for married couples is very similar to the process for couples in a civil partnership save that divorcing on the fact of adultery may be possible if your partner commits adultery with someone of a different sex.
In summary, if your partner has an affair with someone of the same sex then you cannot divorce them on the ground of adultery as adultery is defined as “voluntary intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other but one of whom is married to someone else.” If your partner commits adultery with someone of the opposite sex, then this ground would be available to you.
It is advisable to seek legal advice before you apply for divorce or dissolution and if you would like further information about this topic, please contact Cheryl Haywood.