As of 2nd December 2019, the Civil Partnership, Marriages and Deaths (Registration) Act 2019 will allow persons who are of the opposite sex to form a Civil Partnership in England and Wales. This extension of the regulations sees opposite sex couples being in a position to form Civil Partnerships for the first time in England and Wales since the introduction of same sex Civil Partnerships in 2005.
The regulations came into full effect on 31st December 2019, with the first opposite sex Civil Partnerships being registered on New Years Eve. It also means that those couples who entered Civil Partnerships in jurisdictions which already provided for them, such as the Netherlands and New Zealand, have had their Civil Partnerships automatically registered as of 2nd December 2019.
What does this change in the law mean?
There are currently around 3.3 million opposite sex cohabiting couples living in the UK. Whilst there continues to be an assumption that these relationships are the equivalent of a “common law marriage” this is merely a myth. As such, cohabitation does not currently offer any financial rights or protections should such a relationship breakdown or should one partner pass away. This has left partners in financial difficulty and unable to make claims in respect of pensions in the event of bereavement.
With this in mind, it is important to note that opposite sex Civil Partnerships can offer those couples who do not wish to marry the opportunity to gain some rights and protections. These rights include changes to Parent Responsibility, for example, a father of a child born in an opposite sex Civil Partnership, where the parties are in a Civil Partnership at the time of birth, will automatically gain Parental Responsibility. This has not been the case previously and has meant that fathers have required the consent of the mother to be named on the birth certificate or a Court Order.
If Government predictions prove correct the new regulations will see up to 84,000 opposite sex Civil Partnerships being entered this coming year.
Should you require any advice or assistance in relation to the issues outlined above, please do not hesitate to contact the family team for advice on 0191 384 2441.