Other countries have a variety of different schemes relating to same sex relationships. The rights and responsibilities that arise out of civil partnership or civil union schemes can differ significantly from country to country, from equivalence to marriage (such as UK civil partnerships) to ones that largely confer tax benefits (such as the French PACS scheme which is also available to opposite sex couples). It is really important to get professional advice so that you can understand the implications of the different schemes.
If you registered a civil/domestic partnership in another country, almost certainly your registered partnership will be recognised throughout the UK as a civil partnership. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (which applies throughout the UK) recognises ‘overseas relationships’ which are either set out in a schedule to the Act or which meet general criteria which would be met by the vast majority of overseas partnerships.
Since 29th March 2014 same sex couples also have the option of getting married in England & Wales. However, some important differences remain between same sex and opposite sex marriage:
- Whilst provision is made for religious same sex marriages, this is only possible if the religious group ‘opts in’. Clergy from the Church of England and the Church in Wales are currently prohibited from performing a same sex marriage
- There is no requirement to consummate a same sex marriage (and, therefore, nullity on the basis of non-consummation is not available) and
- Adultery is not a basis for divorce.
If you married your same-sex partner in another country that marriage will be recognised in England & Wales provided that the marriage has been properly performed in the country in which it took place and the couple had the capacity to marry each other under their personal law. This can be quite complex but most foreign same-sex marriages will be recognised. Scotland and Northern Ireland make similar provision.
We offer unrivalled expertise in dealing with the legal issues affecting same sex couples. Our expert family lawyers regularly advise same sex couples across all issues from negotiating pre marriage and pre civil partnership agreements to negotiating divorce and the dissolution process