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Are grounds for divorce different in same-sex marriages?

Friday, 3 February 2017

hand-83079_640For the most part, the grounds for divorce in same-sex marriages are the same as that of an opposite-sex marriage. However, under the current system same-sex couples cannot use adultery as a ground for divorce. This is because the definition of adultery involves engaging in sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex.

So, does this mean that if your spouse has an affair with a person of the same sex that you are unable to use their actions as a grounds for divorce? Not quite, as although in this scenario you would not be able to use adultery as grounds for divorce, their actions could still be used as a ground for divorce as they could fall under ‘unreasonable behaviour’.

Unreasonable behaviour, which is a ground for divorce in all types of marriage and civil partnerships, is when your partner is acting in a way which makes you unable to live with them and be in a relationship together any longer. Excessive alcohol consumption, drug taking, physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual infidelity or acting in a financially irresponsible manner could all constitute unreasonable behaviour.

A second ground for divorce could be desertion. This is when your partner has left you for a period of at least two years and without your approval or any reason for their absence. If you have lived apart for two years then this can be used as a ground for divorce, provided that your spouse is willing to end the marriage, also. If your partner has left you for a period of five years or longer, then you may be able to divorce without their consent.

It is important to note that there are no differences in the division of finances when it comes to divorce in a same-sex marriage, and the grounds of divorce, whether ‘unreasonable behaviour’, or otherwise should have no bearing on financial, or custodial arrangements.

Here at Rollingsons, our team of family lawyers have extensive experience with civil partnerships and same sex marriages. If you are in a same sex marriage and would like advice on annulment, divorce, separation or mediation, then please contact us today on 0207 7611 4848.

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