“Gay Marriage is still unequal – especially when it comes to divorce…”
When my husband and I separated in 2012 I knew it would be difficult. I expected lots of tears, lots of frustration and lots of pain. What I hadn’t expected was for all of the above to be caused by my divorce company.
You see I’m a man. I was divorcing my husband. And apparently that makes things a lot harder. At least if you’re hoping to use an online, fixed price, divorce service.
When we were planning our civil partnership ceremony we made certain that neither of us was the bride. Neither of us would walk down the aisle, neither of us would wear white and neither of us would let our Fathers talk at the reception. (Or at least, that was the excuse we gave our fathers)
So when my divorce company’s forms kept asking the name of my wife it was a little bit discomfiting. It seemed the company needed me to be straight just so they could divorce me.
I filled in the forms, crossing out Mrs where appropriate, and sent them off. The company phoned a few days later me to tell me I had made a mistake.
“You need to enter your place of marriage exactly as it appears on your wedding certificate. Where it says Marriage Solemnised at…”
I explained that I was civil partnered, not married, and that those words didn’t appear anywhere on my certificate, however my call-handler didn’t seem to understand that such things were real. In the end I got a full refund from them and tried elsewhere.
Unfortunately I’ve had the same problem with every pre-packaged divorce company I can find, culminating when I received a draft consent order between Mr and Mrs Simon and Gary Webster.
My drafting solicitor thought it more likely my wife was called ‘Gary’ than that I was married to a man.
I guess, I can hardly blame them. Civil partnerships are still extremely uncommon. And same sex divorce even more so. According to the office of National statistics only 794 civil partnerships got dissolved in 2012 which was just 0.66% of all divorces that year. Why spend money training your staff, and having your forms re-written, for such a small market?
But these companies promised to make my life easier, and instead, because of my sexuality, they made it much harder. Just because I was trying to divorce a man, I had to argue, complain, and fight. For a straight couple it would have been a cut and paste template. For me, it was a battle.
The lesson here is this. If you’re divorcing your same sex partner on the cheap do your homework first
- Check with the company. Make sure they can handle civil partnerships before you hire them.
- Ask to see any forms they use before putting any money down.
- If, after you’ve paid, any forms are poorly designed then cross out the incorrect words and replace them in big, bold font.
- Mention that you’re in a same sex marriage to your case handler every time you e-mail them. If you don’t they’ll probably assume otherwise
Failing all of that, break out your savings and get your own personal divorce solicitor.
In the end my divorce cost me less than £500. But the blood, sweat and tears it caused me cost a lot more.