We have once again spoken to Amanda Owens, who is head of the Family Law team at Norfolk based solicitors Steeles Law. This time, Amanda tells us all about the law surrounding same sex marriage and some pretty interesting (and encouraging) facts!
Getting married is an exciting and joyous time for the couple concerned. In my view it is great that times have now moved on and that the ceremony of marriage is now open to same sex couples as well as heterosexual ones. This came about following the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 which came in to force on 13 March 2014. This law provided that the first marriages could begin to take place from 29 March 2014.
In October 2015 the Office for National Statistics reported that a total of 15,098 same sex couples had legally married since 2014. Of those 7,366 were marriages whilst 7,732 accounted for conversions from civil partnership.
So what does this mean for same sex couples getting married? – it means that they have exactly the same rights as heterosexual couples who marry and it also means they should give consideration to the same sorts of legal issues when entering into the marriage.
So with this in mind I thought it would be helpful if we consider what sort of things couples should think about in the run up to the big day:
- Consider the options for the usual things to consider when planning your wedding, choosing the wedding venue, the bridal trend report, and of course, the legal side of marriage.
- The couple should think about whether to look at entering into a pre-nuptial agreement prior to the wedding to protect their respective assets.
- Both parties should have a Will prepared to make sure that their individual and joint assets are dealt with in accordance with their wishes in the event that one or both parties die. Legal advice should be sought on this.
- Both parties will automatically have parental responsibility for the children born to the marriage so both will have legal rights and responsibilities for the children and their care should be factored in when thinking about the first two considerations mentioned above.
It might seem that these sorts of considerations are the last thing that you want to think about in the run up to the big day but spending some time contemplating such matters will ensure that both parties enter into the marriage feeling everything is in order and they are free to get on with the important business of being a happily married couple!
Same sex celebrity couples who have tied the knot
- US comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and actress Portia de Rossi (formerly of Ally McBeal fame – a lawyer’s favourite!) married at home in California in 2008. Ellen announced the news on her eponymous TV show after California’s Supreme Court reversed their ban on same sex marriage.
- Singing legend Elton John and long term partner David Furnish famously got married in 2014, nine years after entering into a civil partnership. They also used their own nuptials to champion the rights of other same sex couples, promoting the hashtag #ShareTheLove.
- Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, who played lawyer Miranda in the hit TV show and films, wed Christine Marinoni in 2012. The couple got engaged three years prior at a rally supporting same sex marriage.