Your right to divorce as a same-sex couple

8th March 2015 by


The end of any relationship, whether you are a same-sex or mixed-sex couple, presents a particularly troubling time, and getting the expert support you need to handle proceedings as amicably as possible is essential.

As an established divorce solicitor in Brighton, Healys offers the expertise both parties need to end a same-sex marriage. Our experienced team of family lawyers has the knowledge to talk you through what steps you need to take to bring your relationship to an end legally.

We also have the skill to cut through the jargon that often comes with new legislation. In accordance with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, we deliver the facts regarding same-sex divorce.

Grounds for ending a same-sex marriage

As with any divorce, you must present evidence to the court to demonstrate that your relationship has broken down irretrievably.

Under UK law, there are three grounds that can be stated in order to end a same-sex union, these include:

  • Unreasonable behaviour – where a partner has caused the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship through cruelty, abuse (verbal or physically), poor financial decisions or infidelity
  • Desertion – where a partner has left the relationship without agreement and with no good reason. Please note, that the spouse must have left the family home for at least two years
  • Living apart – where both partners have lived separately for more than two or five years.

As with straight couples, gay couples must be married for at least 12 months before they can file for a divorce.

Are there any differences between same-sex and heterosexual divorce?

Whilst the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2013 enabled same-sex couples to have similar rights to mixed-sex couples, there are still a number of differences.

Under the legislation, which also allows existing civil partners to convert their partnership into a marriage, same-sex spouses cannot give adultery as ground for divorce.

Unlike heterosexual marriages, same-sex couples who cheat on their spouse cannot state this as a reason for making a divorce application, Under English and Welsh family law, adultery is considered to be committed between a man and a woman. For a same-sex divorce application to besuccessful as a result of infidelity the wronged-spouse may state ‘unreasonable behaviour’ as the ground.

The ground of non-consummation can also not be given as a reason for same-sex divorce.

Filing for a divorce

Other than the slight difference regarding grounds, same-sex divorce follows the same process as a mixed-sex divorce. The couple must first file a divorce petition to apply to the court for permission to bring their marriage to an end.

A decree nisi can will then be applied for, even if your spouse doesn’t agree with the divorce petition, however you will have to attend court to discuss the case further. You will receive a certificate of entitlement to a decree and a decree nisi if the judge agrees that there is no reason that you cannot divorce.

You must then wait six weeks to apply for a decree absolute to officially end the marriage. You must apply for a decree absolute within 12 months of receiving the decree nisi from the court, and any court request for information must be responded to within the specified time frame.

Hiring a divorce solicitor in Brighton

Getting expert legal representation and support when you wish to end your same-sex marriage is important throughout the three stages of divorce. Your solicitor will be able to help you manage the legal and financial hardship that you may face during proceedings to ensure the outcome of the divorce is in your best interests.

For more information on the service we provide, please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email