Same-sex marriage is the marriage of two people who have the same gender. It can be entered into in both a religious ceremony (see below) and a civil ceremony.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received Royal Assent under the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government in July 2013.
The Act enabled same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies, as well as religious ceremonies (where the religious organisation has ‘opted in’ to conduct the ceremonies).
It also meant that those who had entered into a civil partnership were able to convert their civil partnership into a marriage, should they wish to do so.
As well as allowing same-sex marriage, the Act also enabled those who wished to change their legal gender to do so, without having to end their marriage.
Same-sex marriage has been recognised and performed in England and Wales since March 2014.
The first same-sex weddings took place on 29 March 2014.
Same-sex marriage is legally recognised and performed in a number of different countries throughout the world, including the UK, France, Germany, Ireland and Spain.
Until no-fault divorce becomes a reality in England and Wales, it is necessary to prove that a marriage has irretrievably broken down and give one (or more) of five reasons or ‘grounds’ for divorce:
• Unreasonable behaviour
• Separation for 2 years or more (consent from the other party necessary)
• Separation for 5 years or more (consent not necessary)
Adultery can only be grounds for divorce when sexual intercourse takes place between a man and a woman. Adultery cannot be used as a reason for divorce if the sexual intercourse is between two people of the same sex. However, rather strangely, if one person in a same-sex marriage has sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex, then this would be grounds for divorce, as it would fall into the legal definition of adultery.
If one party in a same-sex marriage had sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex who was not their spouse, it is likely that the party petitioning the divorce may be able to apply for a divorce citing unreasonable behaviour as grounds for divorce.
Many argue that this outdated system does not reflect the way society views marriage and should be changed to keep up with both societal views and same-sex marriage legislation. If – or more likely when – the no-fault divorce law is passed, this should hopefully put an end to this rather bizarre rule, which affects same-sex marriage divorce in what seems to be an unfair way.
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