Civil Partnership Agreements
For many same sex couples the change in the law in December 2005 to allow them to have a wedding and get married under the label of a Civil Partnership has been welcomed as another obstacle removed in the fight against discrimination.
Given that there is no case law available to Judges to consider in the Dissolution of a Civil Partnership, and given that Marriage and Civil Partnership breakdown are covered by the same statutes, Judges will no doubt refer to Divorce case law for guidance.
What Does Divorce Case Law Tell Us?
There is a distinction between short marriages and medium to long term marriages in the treatment of Capital. However, there is a but, AND ITS A BIG ONE. In cases of seamless cohabitation, i.e. short marriages of 1 to 5 years with a period of cohabitation immediately before, Judges in recent cases have included the period of cohabitation as counting towards assessing the length of the marriage or relationship.
What Impact Will This Have On People Entering Civil Partnerships?
It is likely that many same sex couples have cohabited for a considerable period of time, given that they have been unable to marry or have a Civil Partnership until recently. They need to be aware that an early breakdown of their formalised relationship may not be treated as a short affair by the Courts. They need to seriously consider the financial implications and the benefit of a Pre-Nuptial/Pre-Partnership Agreement.
We all know heterosexual couples who lived together quite happily for years, then as soon as they got married, their relationship collapsed. This strange phenomenon could affect homosexual people too!