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Government announce change in law for civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples


All couples in England and Wales will now have the choice between entering into either a civil partnership or a marriage, the Government has announced today. Harrison Drury’s family team takes a closer look at what this will mean for any couples considering this option and how it affects your legal rights.

Theresa May has confirmed that proposed changes to civil partnership law will be implemented in the coming months, ending Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan’s campaign of over three years, to effect a change in the law. This follows on from a ruling in their favour in June 2018 by the Supreme Court.

The court made a declaration that sections 1 and 3 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 are incompatible with Article 14 (prohibition on discrimination) and Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, to the extent that they preclude heterosexual couples from entering into civil partnerships.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan rejected traditional marriage values and instead wished to formally acknowledge their relationship through a civil partnership giving them the same legal and financial protection as marriage. They now have confirmation that they will soon be able to enter into a civil partnership and share the same rights and remedies as married couples.

Why choose a civil partnership over marriage?

There is no such thing as a common law marriage, so for couples who don’t want to get married, a civil partnership offers the same legal protection and a formal recognition of commitment, but in a way described as being modern and equal.

The equal legal treatment that a civil partnership affords covers inheritance, tax, pensions and next-of-kin arrangements and the rules of entering a civil partnership mirror those of marriage. While the criteria for dissolution of a civil partnership are the same as divorce, adultery cannot be used a supporting reason.

A civil partnership is also free of the religious connotations of marriage and in the ceremony, there are no requirements to exchange vows, which can be preferable for those who wish to enter into a relationship equal to marriage, but do not seek to share the religious views that are often part and parcel of a marriage ceremony.

Harrison Drury has a specialist team of family law experts offering advice on all areas of family matters. For more information please contact Harrison Drury on 01772 258321.

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