Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Heterosexual Couple Seeking Marriage Without “Patriarchal Baggage”

Traditionally, marriage is about the union of two people who love each other and are prepared to make a formal, life-long commitment to their relationship.

In theory, life still means life – and yet so many people find that whatever it was that attracted them to a partner has changed enough to make them want to be apart. Although Citizens Advice Waverley cannot provide counselling for a couple seeking help on how to re-build a relationship it can offer advice on how to end one. Of course if a relationship is under pressure and suffering as a result of a problem not directly related to it (debt, or problems at work for example) Citizens Advice Waverley might be able to help with these issues.

The advice on how to end a relationship will depend on a number of factors, one being what type of relationship it is – marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation. The recent Supreme Court ruling (and the government’s change of heart and confirmation that there will be a change in the law) mean that in future heterosexual couples will be allowed to enter into civil partnerships.

So what is the difference between marriage and civil partnerships? It has been said that while each offer the same legal rights, civil partnerships are religion free.

The other factors that will affect the advice given to someone seeking to end a relationship are as follows.

  1. There has been violence and there is a need for emergency action, for example, a court order for an injunction.
  2. A short-term solution is required immediately.
  3. One of the partners needs to leave temporarily to think about what to do,
  4. The partners are able to discuss the issues and reach an agreement.
  5. Whether there is agreement on the care of any children involved.
  6. The couple’s financial arrangements.
  7. Where each partner will live after the relationship ends and whether it is necessary to obtain the help of the courts to settle any dispute.
  8. How family and friends will react if the couple separate and whether they will provide either party with any support.
  9. Whether there are any specific religious or cultural considerations.

Family mediators are available to couples (including same sex couples) to help resolve disputes and reach agreements on specific issues arising from the breakdown of the relationship. Family mediation may prove particularly useful with matters involving children, money and the family home.


  •  gives couples a greater say in what happens,
  • is less stressful and involves less conflict than going to court,
  •  improves communication between couples,
  •  is quicker and cheaper than court action,
  • places the needs of any children above the feelings of the parties.

In addition family mediators often offer further services like counselling for children affected by the break up of the relationship.  However, they cannot give legal advice. This can only be obtained from a solicitor who can also make a mediation agreement legally binding.

Unless one of the parties qualifies for legal aid one or both of them will have to pay the mediator’s costs. Some mediation services have a sliding scale of charges related to income. Some do not charge for the first part of the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting where all the paperwork is sorted out. Some mediators will also have fixed price packages that include legal help. It is best to ask about the options and shop around.

Worried about anything else?

Don’t put it off – Citizens Advice Waverley can almost certainly help.

For free, independent, confidential advice call:

0344 848 7969

or visit:


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