In order for a new gender to be legally recognised, the individual will need to acquire a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). This blog does not intend to go into detail regarding the methods by which this can be obtained, but it is important to note that if the individual is married or in a civil partnership, there are further steps to be taken.
If both parties wish to remain married following the receipt of the GRC, both will need to complete a statutory declaration to this effect. As same-sex marriage is now recognised in England and Wales, this will be sufficient for the marriage to continue. An updated marriage certificate will be provided, taking into account the location of the marriage (religious ceremonies will be deemed to have taken place in a registry office). In the case of a civil partnership, as these are not yet (at the time of writing this blog) available to heterosexual couples, the civil partnership will need to be converted to marriage, following which the statutory declarations can be signed.
If the individual’s spouse does not consent to remaining married, the marriage or civil partnership will have to be ended before a full GRC can be issued. This process is similar to divorce or dissolution, but there will be no option for the spouse to contest the proceedings. It should be borne in mind that any financial matters, and matters relating to children, can be dealt with in the same way as if the marriage or civil partnership had been ended in any other manner.
This is an evolving area of law, and it is expected that from the end of 2019, civil partnerships will be available for heterosexual couples. This will of course alter the above.
For further information, please contact the Family team at Blake Morgan.
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