British law has traditionally all but ignored the LGBT community when it comes to family law and providing equal legal protection for LGBT parents and committed couples. LGBT couples have also suffered discrimination when it comes to matters of asylum rights and same sex immigration cases.
Why should the door be open for opposite sex couples, but remain firmly shut for same -sex couples battling the same immigration or asylum issues? It seems only yesterday the Local Government Act 1988 banned schools from promoting homosexuality, referring to it as a “pretended family relationship”.
Times have changed for the better. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 gave same-sex couples the rights and responsibilities as those in a ‘traditional marriage’. Civil partners are entitled to the same property rights, exemptions on inheritance tax, life insurance and pension benefits as same sex married couples. They also have the same right to apply for parental responsibility for a partner’s children as well as reasonable maintenance, tenancy rights and next-of-kin rights.
The process for dissolving a civil partnership is very similar to the divorce process.
The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 governs heterosexual divorce and importantly, the considerations that the court must apply to dividing matrimonial assets are almost identical when it comes to dissolving civil partnerships.
Whilst such strides were made in favour of civil partnerships and equality in the eyes of the law, there was still a lingering sense of exclusion. Separate civil partnerships preserve the notion that same-sex relationships are just not as legitimate as heterosexual marriage: why should two people who love each other be denied the right to marry?
Finally in 2013, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act came into force, achieving international recognition for equal marriage where there was none for civil partnerships, which problematically differ (widely!) from one country to the next. It is still not perfect as religious bodies are not compelled by law to perform same sex marriages; it is an ‘opt in’ scenario. Nonetheless, we remain optimistic that many religious centres will embrace this well needed change.
Recognising same sex relationships as equal means understanding that, of course, they shall suffer the same pitfalls and pressures as heterosexual marriages, and sadly not always stand the test of time.
This leaves complicated financial provisions and childcare issues to be addressed. A relationship breakdown can also complicate a co-parenting arrangement and there have been many reported cases lately on the breakdown of gay surrogacy. Gay surrogacy is often the chosen option for becoming parents but it can be a complicated route and often comes before the courts for resolution.
At Church Court Chambers, all the above scenarios can be handled with sensitivity and a formidable understanding of the law surrounding such disputes. We can also expertly handle same sex immigration and same sex asylum cases, employment law or any commercial matter. We undertake public access work, which is a very cost effective method of securing expert legal representation throughout the legal process and at court.
Our progressive and approachable barristers are holding an advisory center on Saturday 21st November, offering free 30-minute appointments with an experienced barrister to canvass your dispute and offer pragmatic advice going forward. Your matter will be dealt with in confidence and with sensitivity. If you would like to book an appointment, please contact chambers on 0207 936 3637 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please give brief details about your dispute so that the right barrister can be arranged to advise you. Further dates to be added subject to demand.
We are located in central London and we are easily accessible from Temple tube or Chancery Lane.