Opposite-sex couples will soon be able to form Civil Partnerships
24 December 2019 by Aimee Edwards
The introduction of civil partnerships by the Civil Partnership Act 2004 meant that same-sex couples could legally register their relationship and gave them many of the same legal and financial benefits that marriage provided to opposite-sex couples.
When the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force in England and Wales it legalised same-sex marriage. This provided same-sex couples with a choice to have their relationship, marriage or civil partnership, legally recognised. However, until now, opposite-sex couples have been left without the same choice.
In 2018 Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan sought permission from the Supreme Court to enter into a civil partnership. They stated it was discriminatory to bar same-sex couples from doing so. The Supreme Court agreed.
The ruling prompted a change in the law and on 26 March 2019 the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 came into force. This allows opposite-sex couples to form civil partnerships in England and Wales. To register a civil partnership couples need to give the required 29-day notice prior to registration which can be done from the 2 December 2019 and, as a result, from 31 December 2019 opposite-sex couples will be able to register civil partnerships.
There are some slight differences between a civil partnership and marriage for instance:
- Although both civil partnerships and marriages can be held on religious premises, civil partnerships are conducted as a civil event whereas marriages can be a civil or a religious event.
- Civil partnerships are formed by signing a document whereas a marriage is formed by verbally exchanging vows.
- A marriage certificate only requires details of the father’s name and occupation whereas a civil partnership document allows both parent’s names to be documented.
- As the law currently stands an individual in a civil partnership cannot rely on adultery as a fact to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the civil partnership like a married individual can. They could, however, rely on unreasonable behaviour.
A Government Equalities Office Impact Assessment found that it is uncertain how high the uptake of opposite-sex civil partnerships will be ‘due to the complex personal and social reasons for entering into a formalised union with a partner’.
It is important to remember that the concept of common law marriage between unmarried couples is a myth and, with cohabiting couples on the rise, for those opposite-sex couples who decide that marriage is not the right fit for them, there is now another option available which will give their relationship the legal recognition required in order for them to legally benefit as if they were married.
If you want to obtain advice, we have an experienced team of family lawyers who are able to advise and assist you on the best possible approach to take – contact Fisher Jones Greenwood by calling 01206 700113 or email [email protected].
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