Introduced for same-sex couples in 2005, in order to offer them similar rights to those enjoyed by married couples, civil partnerships were also opened up to heterosexual couples in December 2019. Now, any couple that does not want to enter into marriage for whatever reason may formalise their relationship via a civil partnership. Similarly, gay marriage was legalised in 2013, meaning that couples can wed regardless of their sexual orientation.
Just as with marriage, there are legal requirements that must be followed when entering into a civil partnership, and entering into such a partnership confers certain rights and obligations on both parties.
A different type of union
While marriage and civil partnerships are broadly similar in terms of the rights and responsibilities conferred and the rules for dissolving them, there are some key differences.
The main difference is that civil partnerships are secular agreements, whereas marriage ceremonies are religious. As such, some couples may prefer the civil partnership route to avoid the patriarchal or religious aspects of traditional marriage ceremonies (for example, making vows before God or being ‘given away’ by a male relative).
There are also differences in the way each union is formed. Marriage is formed by making vows to one another, whereas a couple is united in civil partnership by signing a document. Meanwhile, marriages are ended via the divorce process, whereas civil partnerships end in dissolution (although the processes involved in both are broadly similar).
Civil partnership conversion
Many people do not realise that a civil partnership can be converted into a legal marriage in the UK, which offers those who entered into a civil partnership, prior to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, to become spouses should they wish to. This can be useful if a couple are moving abroad to live in a country that does not recognise civil partnerships, for instance.
The implications of and processes involved in civil partnerships can be complex, so instructing a specialist lawyer will provide you with the support you need to take the next step.
That’s why Attwaters Jameson Hill’s Family Law team is here
Our expert family lawyers assist those wanting to register a civil partnership with up-to-date, specialist guidance, including the benefits of drafting of pre-civil partnership agreements (the equivalent to a pre-nuptial agreement) prior to their union. We can also assist with the legal processes involved in converting your civil partnership to a marriage. And, for those whose relationship has sadly broken down, our sympathetic lawyers are on hand to help you through the dissolution process.
We pledge to offer each client a service that is tailored to their requirements, offering clear and up-to-date guidance that draws on decades of industry knowledge. Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 221 8855