Posted by The Family Law Company on 6th April 2012

A recent ruling in the divorce of Don Gallagher and Peter Lawrence has established that civil partnerships should have identical rights to those of husband and wife.

The case – Lawrence v Gallagher[2012] EWCA Civ 394 – has been said to be the first substantial appeal concerning financial issues between a same-sex couple following the dissolution of a civil partnership.

Don Gallagher saw his £1.7 million “divorce” settlement from Peter Lawrence reduced by amost £300,000 at the Court of Appeal after Lord Justice Thorpe, sitting with Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Ryder, said there had been “no rationality” to the higher lump sum.

Acknowledging that the case was a legal first, Lord Justice Thorpe made clear that the same principles should apply as in a heterosexual divorce.

He said: “The fact that the claim arises from the dissolution of a civil partnership rather than a marriage is of little moment since it is common ground that the language of schedule 5 to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is identical to the language of s.25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.”

Rachel Buckley, Director at Hartnell Chanot, comments: “It is good to see that civil partnerships are being given the recognition that they deserve. Couples in a civil partnership have the same legal treatment across a range of matters as that of married couples so it is only right that they are treated the same upon separation. This is the first case of its kind and will set the precedent for future cases.”

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