Converting your civil partnership to marriage – or ending it
Almost nine months since same sex marriages became legal, those in a civil partnership can now convert it into a marriage. As of 10 December 2014, couples can attend a registry office and convert without a ceremony, or opt for a dual stage process of the legal paperwork at the registry office and a ceremony at a venue of their choice.
The process and costs of conversions
For couples that formed their partnership before 29 March 2014, the non-ceremony civil partnership conversion option is free, with usually just a charge for the printing of the wedding certificate. After 10 December 2015, a £45 charge will apply for all conversions.
However, at the time of writing, not every registry office is set up for conversions so your choices will be limited. In Hampshire, for example, you can only convert to a marriage at Winchester, Fareham or Basingstoke registry offices.
For the dual stage process, a fee will apply for the paperwork meeting and a separate fee for the ceremony element. The paperwork stage involves couples providing proof of identity, date of birth, home address and their civil partnership registration. They will need to sign a declaration that the civil partnership has not been dissolved, and that they are willing to convert it to a marriage. A new marriage certificate will then be issued which ‘backdates’ the marriage to the date of their original civil partnership.
Same sex marriage pre-nups
Despite this ‘backdating’ of the marriage, we’d recommend that civil partners converting to a marriage seriously consider a pre-nuptual agreement. A properly constructed pre-nup agreement will help to clarify what each partner brings to the marriage, and what they might take out of it should they divorce. Even if you have a pre-nup dating from your original civil partnership, converting it to a marriage is a good opportunity to review and update. Call us at Leiper Gupta Family Lawyers, and we’ll help your prepare a pre-nup before your conversion date.
Dissolution and Divorce
Once same sex couples are married, if the relationship subsequently breaks down, they will need to get a divorce. (Civil partnerships require a dissolution.) To apply for a divorce, the couple must have been married for at least 12 months, and as with all divorce, the applicant must provide grounds for reasons for the divorce.
Grounds for Same Sex Divorce
Since adultery is defined as intercourse between a man and a woman, same sex couples cannot divorce on the grounds of adultery with a person of the same sex. Equally, a same sex marriage cannot be annulled on the grounds of lack of consummation. However, such actions may still be termed as “unreasonably behaviour”, and in terms of financial settlements or child care after divorce, whether you cite adultery or unreasonable behaviour, it should make no difference to the financial outcome.
Professional help with a same sex divorce
If you’re considering dissolving a civil partnership or a same sex marriage, talk to us at Leiper Gupta Family Lawyers first. As specialists in divorce, we can offer you professional, experienced advice in the early stages, ensuring you have the right information to move forward. Our experience shows that the earlier you seek advice, the easier we can work together to ensuring the best outcome from your proceedings.
We offer a free 30-minute consultation for all clients in the privacy of our countryside offices, and with a policy of same-day responses where possible, fixed price divorces and monthly billing, we try and make the process as stress-free as possible.