Monday, May 22, 2006

Lesbians seeking first gay 'divorce' after three months

By Jonathan Petre
(Filed: 19/05/2006)

A lesbian couple who could become the first to divorce after "marrying" just three months ago were warned by lawyers yesterday that they may have a long wait.

Liz King, 40, and Daphne Ligthard, 36, registered their civil partnership in Ashford, Kent, on Feb 11 before sharing a honeymoon in Amsterdam.

But the relationship soured after Miss Ligthard accused Miss King of seeing another woman who had been a guest at their "wedding". The couple are now splitting up and face the prospect of dividing their joint assets.

Miss Ligthard said that the break-up came after Miss King said she no longer loved her.

"Liz told me she didn't love me any more, that she hadn't done so for years. I was absolutely flabbergasted," she said.

"I asked her why she had gone through the wedding and she said it was to make me happy. But it was all her idea.

"She even asked if I would change my name by deed poll because she liked the sound of it. We seemed more in love than ever."

She said she noticed something was wrong after Miss King, an amateur triathlete who works in insurance, began spending a lot of time away from home and kept bringing another woman back to the house.

"Liz is into athletics and is a triathlete. She began spending a lot of time training with another girl at her athletics club," Miss Ligthard, who works for Eurostar, told The Sun newspaper.

"They were together every day and this girl began coming round to the house when I was at work."

Miss King said: "I have nothing to say except I feel sorry for Daphne at this time."

Lawyers said that, under the Civil Partnerships Act that came into force in December, the couple could not terminate their partnership until it had been in existence for at least a year.

Moreover, in contrast to marriage, adultery was not recognised as grounds for ending a civil partnership, though unreasonable behaviour could be cited.

Mark Harper, a divorce specialist with the London law firm Withers, said that the dissolution of a partnership was almost exactly the same as any other divorce.

"The court would look at the assets that existed at the start of the relationship," he said. "The presumption would be that assets built up during the course of a relationship would be equally divided even if one partner earned much more than the other."

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