For same-sex couples, entering a civil partnership is a way to gain the same legal treatment, protection and advantages (in terms of inheritance tax, pensions and next-of-kin arrangements) as marriage without actually tying the knot.
Originally, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 was introduced to grant same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples, which they otherwise would not have had until the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. Now, same-sex couples in England and Wales can choose between a civil partnership and a civil marriage, as both provide fundamentally the same benefits and recognition in the eyes of the law.
Where they differ is in terms of:-
- administrative process;
- grounds for annulment and dissolution; and
- the fact that civil partners cannot call themselves “married” for legal purposes.
As the legal differences are slight, the choice of whether to pursue a civil partnership or civil marriage is entirely personal.
Currently, civil partnerships are only available for same-sex couples. However, following a Supreme Court Ruling in 2018, which found in favour of an opposite-sex couple who wanted to be allowed to have a civil partnership, it has been announced that all couples in England and Wales will be able to choose to have a civil partnership rather than get married.
If you and your partner are thinking about a civil partnership, Swinburne Maddison can offer you advice and the legal expertise you need. For more information, please contact a member of our Family team on 0191 384 2441.