The Court of Appeal are considering, for the first time, the issue of the division of assets in a same sex divorce. The case between a high flying financier, Peter Lawrence, and an actor Donald Gallagher concerns significant assets (over Â£4,000,000) and higher than average earnings (the financier on Â£390,000 per annum and the actor on Â£100,000 per annum). Mr Lawrence, whose annual earnings reportedly amount to Â£390,000, is arguing that his actor ex-partner, who earns a relatively low Â£100,000, is not entitled to a Â£1.7 million payout following the dissolution of their civil partnership.
The court is grappling with the difficult issue of the lack of children (and potential children) in a same sex relationship – the only different issue to a standard heterosexual case.
Tim Bishop QC, for Mr Gallagher, said it was “inconceivable’ that what was proposed by Mr Lawrence was a fair outcome.
He said that while Mr Gallagher worked intermittently as an actor, earning about Â£100,000 a year, he played “the major domestic and home-making role’ in the partnership. The actor “helped create and maintain a lovely home in the flat in various ways, soft furnishings, planting on balconies, improvement of layout and fixtures, redecoration.’
The court is likely to hear evidence and the reserve its decision. It will be a historic decision for the gay community and an important milestone with the issue of full gay marriage very much on the agenda.