Same-sex couples have been able to
Reasons for same-sex divorce or dissolution
One of the differences between divorce or dissolution of same-sex and heterosexual couples is that same-sex couples in a civil partnership cannot cite adultery as the reason for the break-up of the relationship. Those in a same-sex marriage can only cite adultery as the reason for the break-up if their partner has had sex with a member of the opposite sex, as the legal definition of adultery is for a husband or wife to have sex with a member of the opposite sex.
Therefore, same sex couples can cite one of four reasons that their marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably and they are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- 2 years separation – with the other partner’s agreement
- 5 years separation – without the other partner’s agreement
Why use mediation?
From there on, the process of divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership is very similar, and gay or lesbian couples have to deal with the same issues as heterosexual couples when they separate. Here at Family Matters, we help more and more same sex couples – married, in a civil partnership or living together, to agree their issues without going through the less progressive court system that is trying to put same sex relationship into a system that has evolved to deal with marriage.
Mediation is a quicker, cost-effective and less stressful way to end your marriage or civil partnership. You are able to talk to each other in a private, safe place, with the meeting facilitated by a trained and experienced mediator, who can help you to explore various solutions and find the best one for your individual circumstances. Here are some of the issues that are often settled by same
If you have children, avoiding a hostile break-up will certainly help them and will help you all to maintain relationships in the future.
Children issues are a challenge for all separating couples, whether married, in a civil partnership or living together. No parent wants to hurt their children, most do everything they can to avoid it, but taking the court route to sorting out children issues is never going to result in a harmonious relationship. Using mediation to sort out where your children will live, who will see them, when and for how long, who will take them on holiday and who will pay for what and where, etc. is a much kinder way to make arrangements for your children’s future. We understand the views of children of same sex couples, who, even though they are happy in their family life, can sometimes feel that an alternative family lifestyle could be a cause of friction when their parents separate – but often feel they cannot say that to their parents. Specially trained and experienced child consultants at Family Matters can listen to your children in a neutral environment, allowing them to put their views and opinions forward in a way that doesn’t make them feel responsible for making decisions, but helps them to understand that you care what they think and feel. Family mediators can then discuss your children’s views with you, helping you to come to a workable agreement.
Of course, we recognise the specific and diverse challenges that gay and lesbian couples have to overcome. The different means of conception in the first instance can raise issues of parental responsibility – adoption rules, surrogacy issues and the rights of biological and non-biological parents, for example. Your parenting structures may be different to conventional ones and a judge, within the constraints of the legal system, may not be able to offer a solution that will work for you or one that you are both happy with. At mediation, however, you can explore different options and come up with solutions that you are in control of and that you are both more likely to adhere to than those imposed on you by a court.
Financial settlements following the break-up of civil partnership or same sex marriage are treated in the same way as they are with heterosexual divorce, so judges are likely to apply the same criteria when it comes to sorting out money. Earning capacity, needs, contribution made to the partnership and length of the marriage, for example. The latter may cause an issue when it comes to a fair split of assets for same sex couples. As, same sex marriage and civil partnership have only been legal for a relatively short time, many same sex couples lived together for many years before their relationship was formalised into such a union, and a judge will probably not take this time into account when the relationship fails – whereas you might want to. In meditation, you are in control of how your assets are shared out – irrespective of what a judge might say the share should be – so you can take account of the full length of your relationship and any other financial issues that may be outside the conventional divorce criteria.
Same-sex couples can claim maintenance in the same way as heterosexual couples. The partner with whom the children live will most likely be awarded child maintenance. Maintenance for yourself (spousal maintenance) will only be awarded in certain circumstances, such as disparity of earnings, and, if there is enough in the pot, it can be
Mediation is always private. If you don’t want the world to know the details of your divorce or dissolution, it won’t. At Family Matters Mediation, we will discuss your situation with you and you alone in a confidential and respectful manner – we don’t judge or criticise and we don’t take sides. We just use our skills and experience to help you to evaluate your options and find the best solutions for you and your family.
At the time of writing, civil partnerships are only available to same-sex couples, although in March 2019 the House of Commons approved amendments made by the House of Lords to the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration