Fam­ily Life and Fam­ily Law


Pride Life Magazine - - SPONSORED FEATURE -

Bri­tish law has tra­di­tion­ally all but ig­nored the LGBT com­mu­nity when it comes to fam­ily law and pro­vid­ing equal le­gal pro­tec­tion for LGBT par­ents and com­mit­ted cou­ples. LGBT cou­ples have also suf­fered dis­crim­i­na­tion when it comes to mat­ters of asy­lum rights and same-sex im­mi­gra­tion cases.

Why should the door be open for op­po­site­sex cou­ples, but re­main firmly shut for same-sex cou­ples bat­tling the same im­mi­gra­tion or asy­lum is­sues? It seems only yes­ter­day the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act 1988 banned schools from pro­mot­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, re­fer­ring to it as a “pre­tended fam­ily re­la­tion­ship”.

Times have changed for the bet­ter. The Civil Part­ner­ship Act 2004 gave same-sex cou­ples the rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as those in a “tra­di­tional mar­riage”. Civil part­ners are en­ti­tled to the same property rights, ex­emp­tions on in­her­i­tance tax, life in­sur­ance and pen­sion ben­e­fits as same-sex mar­ried cou­ples. They also have the same right to ap­ply for parental re­spon­si­bil­ity for a part­ner’s chil­dren as well as rea­son­able main­te­nance, ten­ancy rights and next-of-kin rights.

The process for dis­solv­ing a civil part­ner­ship is very sim­i­lar to the di­vorce process. The Mat­ri­mo­nial Causes Act 1973 gov­erns het­ero­sex­ual di­vorce and im­por­tantly, the con­sid­er­a­tions that the court must ap­ply to di­vid­ing mat­ri­mo­nial as­sets are al­most iden­ti­cal when it comes to dis­solv­ing civil part­ner­ships.

Whilst such strides were made in favour of civil part­ner­ships and equal­ity in the eyes of the law, there was still a lin­ger­ing sense of ex­clu­sion. Sep­a­rate civil part­ner­ships pre­serve the no­tion that same-sex re­la­tion­ships are just not as le­git­i­mate as het­ero­sex­ual mar­riage: why should two peo­ple who love each other be de­nied the right to marry?

Fi­nally in 2013, the Mar­riage (Same Sex Cou­ples) Act came into force, achiev­ing in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion for equal mar­riage where there was none for civil part­ner­ships, which prob­lem­at­i­cally dif­fer (widely!) from one coun­try to the next. It is still not per­fect as re­li­gious bod­ies are not com­pelled by law to per­form same sex mar­riages; it is an “opt-in” sce­nario. Nonethe­less, we re­main op­ti­mistic that many re­li­gious cen­tres will em­brace this well needed change.

Recog­nis­ing same-sex re­la­tion­ships as equal means un­der­stand­ing that, of course, they shall suf­fer the same pit­falls and pres­sures as het­ero­sex­ual mar­riages, and sadly not al­ways stand the test of time.

This leaves com­pli­cated fi­nan­cial pro­vi­sions and child­care is­sues to be ad­dressed. A re­la­tion­ship break­down can also com­pli­cate a co-par­ent­ing ar­range­ment and there have been many re­ported cases lately on the break­down of gay sur­ro­gacy. Gay sur­ro­gacy is of­ten the cho­sen op­tion for be­com­ing par­ents but it can be a com­pli­cated route and of­ten comes be­fore the courts for res­o­lu­tion.

At Church Court Cham­bers, all the above sce­nar­ios can be han­dled with sen­si­tiv­ity and a for­mi­da­ble un­der­stand­ing of the law sur­round­ing such dis­putes. We can also ex­pertly han­dle same­sex im­mi­gra­tion and same-sex asy­lum cases, em­ploy­ment law or any com­mer­cial mat­ter. We un­der­take pub­lic ac­cess work, which is a very cost ef­fec­tive method of se­cur­ing ex­pert le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion through­out the le­gal process and at court.

Our pro­gres­sive and ap­proach­able bar­ris­ters are hold­ing an ad­vi­sory cen­tre on Satur­day 21 Novem­ber, offering free 30-minute ap­point­ments with an ex­pe­ri­enced bar­ris­ter to can­vass your dis­pute and of­fer prag­matic ad­vice go­ing for­ward. Your mat­ter will be dealt with in con­fi­dence and with sen­si­tiv­ity.

If you would like to book an ap­point­ment, please con­tact cham­bers on 0207 936 3637 or email: [email protected]­courtcham­bers.co.uk. Please give brief de­tails about your dis­pute so that the right bar­ris­ter can be ar­ranged to ad­vise you. Fur­ther dates to be added sub­ject to de­mand.

We are lo­cated in cen­tral Lon­don and we are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble from Tem­ple tube or Chancery Lane.

Go to: church­courtcham­bers. co. uk

“Recog­nis­ing same-sex re­la­tion­ships as equal means un­der­stand­ing that, of course, they shall suf­fer the same pit­falls and pres­sures

as het­ero­sex­ual mar­riages, and sadly not al­ways stand the

test of time”

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