Judges: Civil partnerships are same as marriage

The legal rights on dissolving a same-sex civil partnership are exactly the same as a divorce between a married couple, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Supporters of traditional marriage say it shows that there is no need to introduce gay marriage because the legal rights are already available through civil partnerships.

The case centred on a homosexual couple who separated in 2008 after an eleven year relationship and a seven month civil partnership.

Identical

Yesterday the Court of Appeal said the language of the law for civil partnerships is “identical” to the law for marriage.

Commenting on the case Jonathan West, head of family law at the law firm Prolegal, said: “This is a useful case particularly when considering the recent proposals to allow gay marriage.

“It should serve as a salutary lesson that anyone considering a civil partnership or gay marriage must understand what they are getting into”.

Assets

Peter Lawrence was appealing an earlier decision which awarded his former partner Don Gallagher £1.7 million of the couple’s assets.

But the Court ruled in favour of Mr Lawrence, a banker, and reduced the award by nearly £300,000.

Divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag said: “The reduction of Mr Gallagher’s award was based on correcting the judge’s application of the rules on matrimonial property, particularly on how to bring into account the family homes.

Distinction

“It had nothing to do with any distinction between heterosexual and homosexual partnerships, and indeed makes clear that in this area of law no such distinction would be justified.

She added: “The decision should reassure civil partners that they will be treated identically to married couples by the courts when they divorce.”

Earlier this year a new survey revealed that the majority of the public oppose same-sex marriage given that all the legal rights of marriage are already available through civil partnerships.

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