Gay Marriage... Gay Divorce... Gay Prenups...

We hear a lot these days about messy divorces and their legal implications — but what about the growing number of same-sex splits that are coming to court, asks Thomas Duggins.

WE HAVE SEEN many examples of big-money divorce payments in recent years, but these have always been between men and women. What happens if it is two men or two women splitting up? Since civil partnerships were allowed in 2005, and with David Cameron's current enthusiasm for gay marriage proper, this has not been a theoretical question; nor has the issue of prenups for civil partners. The news that Pierre Lagrange of GLG had left his wife for a man made this subject more timely than ever.

Much press attention has, perhaps unfairly, focused on the perceived gender bias of the English courts, and disparaging comments have been made about the fact that wives in most of the big-money cases do not work out of the home, and indeed will never need to. Identical issues of course exist within gay relationships. Since the introduction of civil partnerships, family lawyers have speculated how the English court will treat the same-sex partner of a multimillionaire mogul on dissolution of their partnership. Will they, for instance, take the same perceived paternalistic attitude to a gay man who has not worked for the duration of the partnership, or will they assume he can get on his bike and work?

The financial provisions of the Civil Partnership Act directly match those on divorce. Although the Labour government resisted gay marriage, civil partnerships are almost precisely this, simply under a different name. Now, six years on and with a rise in the number of dissolutions, the same issues that exist on divorce are raising their head for civil partnerships, too.

On dissolution of a civil partnership, the court's starting point will be an equal division of capital, regardless of its origin or...

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