In recent weeks, the news has been reporting upon the proposed changes to the laws in Scotland regarding Gender Recognition under the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
Whilst the proposed changes to the laws in Scotland would not alter those governing England and Wales, it seems topical to consider Gender Reassignment and Recognition in the context of marriages and civil partnerships, and the importance of understanding the legal implications surrounding such transitions and how they can affect the status of the relationships they concern.
Under Section 1 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, a person 18 years of age or older may apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate to legally recognise the gender they identify as.
If the Applicant is married or in a Civil Partnership, the issue of an Interim Gender Recognition Certificate could give rise to a potential ground for a decree/order of “nullity”. An Annulment effected ends the marriage or civil partnership and is granted when it can be shown that a marriage or civil partnership is either:
- Not legally valid (known as “void”) – for example where one party to the marriage was already legally married or was under the age of 16.
- Was legally valid, but meets one of the criteria that makes it “voidable”. For instance, one of the parties did not or could not validly consent to the marriage, or the marriage was not consummated by way of sexual intercourse. A “voidable” marriage also includes scenarios in which one spouse or civil partner is in the process of transitioning to a different gender.
In light of this, a person who is married or in a Civil Partnership must include within their application for a Gender Recognition Certificate:
- A Statutory Declaration by the spouse or civil partner that they consent to the marriage or civil partnership continuing after the issue of the Full Gender Recognition Certification,
- A Statutory Declaration by the Applicant that their spouse or civil partner has not made the relevant Statutory Declaration of consent, if that is the case.
Whilst the issue of a Gender Recognition Certificate has potential implications upon the status of marriage and civil partnerships, this does not affect the status of the person as the father or mother of a child.
For further information regarding any of these areas, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach Jasmine at email@example.com, or call our Morpeth branch on 01670 519714.