Civil Partnerships

For initial legal advice contact our Family Law Solicitors and we will help you.

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A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship between two adults who are not related to each other.

They were introduced in 2004 at a time when same-sex marriage wasn’t available, in an attempt to give same sex couples legal rights and protections similar to those which heterosexual couples were afforded through marriage and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

After their introduction, the law changed again, to allow same sex couples to enter into a marriage and more recently, in 2019, civil partnerships were extended to heterosexual couples, too.

Before civil partnerships were introduced, the law did not recognise same sex relationships in the way that it does now. For example, if one half of a couple was in hospital, their partner would have no legal right to make decisions about medical treatment on their behalf. If one half of the couple had a pension or property in their sole name, the other half had no automatic right to make a financial claim upon separation. 

Civil partnerships opened the gateway not only to same sex couples being afforded legal protection in the context of family life and relationship breakdown, but to all family types being able to choose between a traditional marriage and an alternative, legally recognised partnership and the protection that comes with it.

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Should We Choose a Marriage or a Civil Partnership?

This is a personal choice. Once a Civil partnership has been entered into, it means you have exactly the same legal rights as you would in a marriage.

Some people prefer the traditional feeling and expectations that come with a marriage.  Others might opt for a civil partnership as a more modern, less traditional way of giving their relationship legal status. 

For many, the religious aspects deeply rooted in marriage can be a reason for, or against it.  A civil partnership is not grounded in religion in any way, making it attractive to those who don’t subscribe to a particular faith but want to make a legally binding commitment to each other.

There are a few things you need to bear in mind when entering into a civil partnership. Read on for more information or get in touch with our Family Law Solicitors for a personal consultation.

Should I Consider a Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement?

Whenever you consider entering a civil partnership you ought to consider a Pre-Civil Partnership agreement, too.  You might know this type of agreement as a Pre-Nuptial agreement.

These types of agreement are often entered into before the civil partnership ceremony, set out the extent of your assets, and outline what each of you agrees will happen to those assets in the event of a separation. 

They can cover general finances, property, maintenance, pensions, child arrangements and even pets.  They are tailored to you and your family and in many cases will save both time and money because it is often far easier to agree what will happen in the sad circumstances of a relationship breaking down, before that happens, than after, when tensions might be running high.

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What are Civil Partnership Rights?

In England and Wales civil partners have the same rights and responsibilities as responsibilities as those who are in a recognised marriage. These include:

If you and your partner share a home, then you both have the right to occupy the property, even if your name is not on the title deeds. You also have the right to remain there if the relationship breaks down, unless a court orders you to leave.  Even if you do leave the property after a separation, your financial interest in the property will be preserved.

If you live in a rented property, you can occupy the home regardless of whose name is on the tenancy agreement. If your civil partner passes away, you may still be able to remain there, but we would always suggest taking expert legal advice on this.

Civil partners enjoy inheritance tax relief, pension benefits and tax allowances. In addition, you often get full life insurance acceptance, too.

If you are in a civil partnership, you can obtain parental responsibility for your partner’s children, via a step parental responsibility agreement.  

It’s important to know that in the event of your partnership ending you may also be required to provide financial support to your partner and the children, in some cases.

If you are taken to hospital, being in a civil partnership means your partner will be kept informed of any updates or information.  They will also be involved in any decision making regarding your treatment.

Can I end a Civil Partnership?

If things don’t go to plan and you want to end your civil partnership, known as “dissolution”, you’ll need to apply to a court in the same way a married couple would need to apply for a divorce.

You have to have been in your civil partnership for over a year before you can apply to dissolve it.

If you want to bring the civil partnership to an end before the 12-month anniversary it may be possible to obtain an annulment, but not in every case. Alternatively, you could choose to enter into a separation agreement, which would record your intentions pending the dissolution taking place. Speak to one of our specialist Family Law Experts if you have any questions about this.

Why Choose Simpson Millar?

We have a team of dedicated Family Law Specialists who can advise you on and help you make arrangements in anticipation of, or towards dissolving your civil partnership in a supportive, caring and professional way.

If you need guidance get in touch with us today.

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