Same sex marriage conversion became available to civil partners in March 2014, under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. The rights and responsibilities of couples in same sex marriages are broadly the same as those in opposite sex marriages. The legal requirements for same sex divorce are similar to those for opposite sex divorce, but there are minor differences, e.g. the ability to cite adultery as foundation for the divorce unless it is with somebody of the opposite sex. Despite the minor differences, the 2013 act is considered to be a huge step forward in achieving equality between the treatment of opposite sex and same sex couples.
The act provides a range of conversion procedures, to be considered by the parties, upon legal advice, to assess how to obtain a same sex marraige. The procedures are:
- The standard procedure (a simple administrative process for civil partners who want their conversion to take place in a register office)
- The procedure for housebound persons
- The procedure for those detained in a hospital or prison
- The special procedure for those who are seriously ill and not expected to recover
- The two stage procedure for those who want their conversion to take place in approved secular or religious premises where same sex marriages can be celebrated and may want to have a conversion ceremony
Before the parties can convert their civil partnership into a marriage, they must make an appointment to attend a register office before the superintendant registrar, providing standard information about the parties, e.g. name, address, date of birth, all supported by appropriate identification. upon receipt of the information, identification and administration fee, the conversion to a same sex marriage under the standard procedure takes less than an hour.
If the parties want to convert their civil partnership into a same sex marriage at approved secular or religious premises, there is a two stage process to follow. The first stage is for both parties to attend an appointment at a register office together in person before the superintendant registrar and provide the information and supporting evidence, as above under the standard procedure. They must also pay the superintendant registrar a fee.
The second stage is the signing of the conversion declaration, which can be followed by a ceremony and can take place at venues where same sex couples are permitted to marry. Parties must follow the respective procedure for a conversion ceremony at approved secular premises, or the procedure for a conversion ceremony at approved religious premises. If parties would like family and friends to be present at the conversion, they should choose the two stage procedure.
Following the conversion to a same sex marriage, the relevant documents must then be recorded by the superintendant, with the marriage deemed to begin on the date of the original civil partnership.
If you wish to discuss your civil partnership status with a specialist family lawyer, contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777 for a free consultation. Hunter & Uro Solicitors serve clients in London and Bedford and the surrounding areas.