The majority of the provisions of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 come into force on 13 March 2014. From that date it will be permitted to give notice of same-sex marriages. This means that the first same-sex weddings in England and Wales can take place from 29 March 2014.
Effects on family law
In general terms, the law of England and Wales will apply in the same way to a marriage which has taken place between same sex couples as to a marriage between opposite sex couples. The term husband will include a man married to another man, and the term wife will include a woman married to another woman.
There are some specific exceptions to this:
- Married persons of the same sex will not be able to divorce on grounds of adultery, or to have their marriage annulled on grounds of non-consummation
- Equality has not been implemented in all respects in relation to pensions
There is also general provision which permits the government to enact future provisions limiting the equivalence of all marriages.
The Secretary of State is required to carry out a review which must be published by 1 July 2014 and which relates to occupational pension schemes and in particular survivor benefits.
Same sex marriage in Scotland and Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, a same sex marriage is to be treated as a civil partnership. The Act anticipates that same sex marriage may become lawful in Scotland where it is currently under debate.
If the marriage is deemed a civil partnership in Northern Ireland or Scotland and is then dissolved, this will also bring the marriage to an end in England and Wales.
The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of divorce, separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org