Great news followed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013; receiving Royal assent same sex marriages will be possible from the 29th March 2014. Couples will need to serve notice with their Local Authorities where they live at least 15 clear days before the day they wish to marry.
The legislation which will govern marriage between gay couples will replicate the existing law for heterosexual couples. Civil partnership law, as it now stands, is legally consistent with the law on marriage. Essentially the ability to marry will mean it will be a matter of choice for gay couples if they wish to marry in a religious setting and have the label “marriage” attributed to their relationship or have a civil legal union. The appeal of marriage for same sex couples is that arguably Civil Partnerships have been seen as inferior to heterosexual marriages, and it is hoped same sex marriage will mean that gay relationships are seen to be just as valid and stable as heterosexual relationships.
The Act gives the right of religious organisations to refuse to marry gay couples on their premises. Some religions, such as the Church of England, are considering offering blessings to same-sex.
As it stands the timetable for same sex marriages was brought forward on 10 December 2013 when the Equalities Minister, Maria Miller announced the following good news:
- From 29 March 2014 same sex couples will be able to marry in England and Wales.
- From June 2014 same sex couples will be able to marry in British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions, as well as on British military bases.
- By the end of 2014 couples in Civil Partnerships will be able to change the status of their relationship to a marriage.
- Also by the end of 2014, married people who want to change their legal gender while remaining married will be able to do so.
Before you marry you may wish to consider a pre-nuptial agreement to allow your joint finances to be considered before marriage. This may be a good way to clarify between you the division of your personal assets within the marriage if you were to separate. Whilst they are not strictly legally binding on the courts, the recent trend when the court deals with divorces is, in the main, to give effect to pre-nuptial agreements. This is however dependent on certain criteria being met, including, that the parties must have had independent legal advice before entering into the pre-nuptial agreement.
Should you be interested in entering into a pre-nuptial agreement a specialist family solicitor at TV Edwards can assist you and we offer competitive private rates. We have a number of offices located throughout London and have solicitors available to advise should you wish.