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Civil Partnership may be bar to same sex marriage

A gay couple are considering legal action against the government as it may not be possible to convert a civil partnership to marriage, once the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 comes into force. The current law will require couples to obtain dissolution first.

Michael and Paul Atwal-Brice entered into a civil partnership in 2008 when marriage was not available to same sex couples.  The couple, who have twin seven year old sons, were looking forward to converting their civil partnership to a marriage when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 comes into force later this year. However they have been advised that before they can enter into a marriage under the new law they will first have to dissolve their civil partnership.  As the only means of doing this is on an application to the Court to dissolve the civil partnership on the single available ground of unreasonable behaviour, the couple have found themselves effectively barred from marriage under the new law.

The couple are considering Judicial Review on the basis that, as the rules currently stand, the new law discriminates between those who previously entered into a civil partnership and those who have not.

A Government spokesman has been quoted as saying: “We are continuing to work hard to ensure that couples wanting to convert their civil partnerships into marriages are able to do so as soon as possible. We aim to do this before the end of 2014.

In the meantime Michael and Paul are caught in a trap never intended by the legislation and are unable to proceed with their wedding plans.

If you need advice regarding civil partnerships or any aspect of same sex marriage issues please contact our specialist solicitors on 0207 4260400.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.