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Family Law for the LGBT Community

We are specialists in same sex marriage and civil partnerships, international recognition of same sex marriage abroad, divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships. Whether you are concerned about recognition of your rights in a different jurisdiction, your financial future on separation, starting a family or making arrangements for your children, we are here to offer expert guidance and support.We also offer a high level of expertise in the area of same sex family law with an international element. Were you married abroad but now live in the UK? Were you married here but have relocated? Are you from different countries? This can lead to unique problems in same sex marriage and civil partnerships and we can help you address them.

Whatever your family makeup we look to promote and protect your rights, from parental to financial, we have the knowledge and resources to provide you with the advice and solutions you and your family need. We aim to deal with your matter in a sensitive collaborative way to preserve vital co-parenting relationships and reduce the stress and upset that may be present in your separation. We have a network of trusted mediators and can provide innovative workable solutions to achieve the right outcome for you.

Your matter may require litigation in the Family Court which can be a daunting prospect but we can help you to navigate through the process avoiding hostility while securing the best outcome for your future.
We can help you with:
-        Pre-nuptial agreements/ cohabitation agreements
-        Converting a civil partnership to a marriage
-        Recognition of civil partnerships and same sex marriage abroad
-        Divorce & dissolution of civil partnerships
-        Financial arrangements on separation, including business assets, overseas assets and protection of pensions
-        Surrogacy, sperm donors, parenting agreements and parental rights
-        Disputes involving parents, children and gender identity including disputes as to consent to gender transitioning and treatment
-        Child arrangements including parents overseas and child maintenance
-        Hague convention proceedings and international child abduction
-        International family law, including enforcement of Orders made in England and Wales and recognition of Orders made outside of the jurisdiction.
 
Legal Developments in treating children and young people with Gender Dysphoria

If your child is experiencing Gender Dysphoria (GD), you have likely heard of the Judgement handed down in December 2020 in the case of Bell -v- Tavistock which has caused a great deal of anxiety among young persons receiving and seeking treatment. If you are concerned about the implications this will have for your child and their future treatment or support, contact us and we can arrange a fixed fee one hour appointment to discuss the options available to you and your child.
 
The Judgement
In summary, the Court were to consider whether children under the age of 18 could consent to puberty blocking treatment which is the first step in physical treatment for young people experiencing GD. In order to give consent to treatment a person must have ‘capacity’ to make the decision, a person aged between 16 and 18 will be presumed to have capacity to consent to their own medical treatment unless there is evidence to the contrary. A child under the age of 16 is able to consent to medical treatment but in order to do so they must be considered ‘Gillick competent’. Put simply, a person is Gillick competent if they can understand the nature, purpose and possible consequences of the decision; they understand the information relevant to the decision and possible outcomes; and they are able to weigh that information in order to make the decision and communicate it clearly. It follows that the more complex the information required to make a decision, the more likely it is that a younger child will not be able to demonstrate a sufficient understanding to be considered Gillick competent. The Judgement considered that 16-18year olds seeking treatment by way of puberty blockers would continue to be presumed to have the required capacity to make such a decision.

In respect of children under the age of 16, it was decided as follows:
-        Children aged 14 – 15: It is “very doubtful” that they will be considered competent to give consent to this treatment.
-        Children aged 13 and under: it is “highly unlikely” that they will be competent to consent to this treatment.

In coming to this decision the Court emphasised that the information a child needs to understand about the treatment and its short and long terms effects is highly complex and the treatment involved is “truly life changing, going as it does to the very heart of an individual’s identity”.


The Appeal
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust has been given permission to appeal the decision and we will update this page further when this decision is handed down. In the meantime the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) are in the process of reviewing the treatment of their existing patients and conducting best interest assessments to decide on the treatment plan moving forward.
Any new referrals for under 16 year olds will require a court order (a best interests order). Young people aged 16 and 17 may still be able to access treatment without the need for a court order in the lead up the appeal if the young person had started treatment before the Judgement was given and the young person, treating clinician and parents are all agreed that treatment is in the young persons best interests. It is still possible that a best interests order will be required. Speak to GIDS if you are in any doubt around current treatment your child is receiving.    


Help and Support
GIDS continue to offer psycho-social support to new and existing patients, a wealth of information and support can be found on their webpage: https://gids.nhs.uk/about-us
Mermaids is a charitable organisation offering support to transgender, non-binary and gender diverse children and young people up to the age of 20. Mermaids offers emotional support and information for young people and their families, they have a telephone helpline and free webchat service available. More information can be found on their website: https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/about-us/
Mindline Trans+ runs an emotional support helpline and signposting service for anyone identifying as transgender, non-binary, gender fluid and their family and friends. The helpline is open on Mondays and Fridays from 8pm – midnight, you don’t need to give your name or personal details and can talk to their trained volunteers for any emotional support or advice. See their website for more details and costs etc: http://mindlinetrans.org.uk/  


There are many other services available to offer emotional and practical support to individuals and families, it is well worth looking on the internet for a service that suits you.  

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