Our international family lawyers regularly advise on cases involving complex international aspects

Recognition of Foreign Same Sex Relationships

Outcomes vary geographically It is crucial to obtain timely advice on international family law issues


The international family law issues that our clients face vary tremendously. We have provided guidance on some of the questions that we are commonly asked about the recognition of foreign same sex relationships:

  • I registered a civil/domestic partnership in another country. Is that recognised in the UK? Almost certainly your registered partnership will be recognised throughout the UK as a Civil Partnership. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (which applies throughout the UK) recognises ‘overseas relationships’ which are either set out in a schedule to the Act or which meet general criteria which would be met by the vast majority of overseas partnerships.
  • Is same-sex marriage now possible in the UK? In England & Wales marriage between same-sex couples is now possible under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. It is also possible for a same-sex couple to marry in Scotland under the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.  Same-sex marriage is not available in Northern Ireland.
  • I married my same-sex partner in another country. Will that marriage be recognised in the UK? In England & Wales a foreign same-sex marriages will be recognised provided that the marriage has been properly performed in the country it took place and the couple had capacity to marry each other under their personal law. This can be quite complex but most foreign same-sex marriages will be recognised.  Scotland makes similar provisions.  In Northern Ireland foreign same-sex marriages will be recognised as Civil Partnerships.
  • Can I convert my Civil/Domestic Partnership into marriage? The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 allows for conversion of Civil Partnerships registered in England & Wales into marriage. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 makes similar provisions for Scottish Civil Partnerships.  However, foreign domestic civil partnerships cannot be converted to marriage.  It would be necessary to dissolve the foreign domestic civil partnership and then marry in England & Wales or Scotland.

For further information take a look at Same Sex Marriage & Civil Partnerships. You may also find our blogs on international same sex issues helpful:

The Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages Abroad

Civil partnerships and same sex marriage – capacity and recognition of foreign relationships

Same sex marriage recognised throughout the US

Same sex marriage in the US – the constitutional tidal wave

International same sex marriage and adoption