Contact Slater and Gordon for a no-obligation consultation about civil partnerships. Whether you’re considering entering into a civil partnership or you need advice on legally ending the relationship, our civil partnership solicitors can help.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004
According to the Civil Partnership Act 2004, same-sex couples are able to register their relationship as a civil partnership, provided both partners are aged 16 or over.
The Civil Partnership Act was ground-breaking in the UK, providing nearly the same legal rights, responsibilities and obligations as those enjoyed by (heterosexual) married couples. It doesn’t apply, however, to unmarried heterosexual cohabitees, nor does it confer any legal rights on unregistered same-sex couples. In at least these respects it falls short of what some had hoped would be put in place.
Since the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into effect in England and Wales in March 2014, and the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 passed in the same year, couples can choose to legally marry. However, some couples prefer to opt for a civil partnership instead.
There are a few reasons why people may prefer civil partnerships, including couples wanting a way to formally recognise the relationship, with financial and legal protection, without the religious connotations of marriage. For people who object to marriage as an institution (including its associations with patriarchy and property), civil partnership can be a sensible alternative.
The civil partnership registration process
Civil partnership registration is a straightforward process, but it does take a little time. While you can’t decide to enter into a civil partnership and complete the process in the same day, it shouldn’t take longer than 28 days.
You first need to give notice that you intend to register a civil partnership, and you must do this 28 days before the actual registration can take place. Giving notice involves the following:
- Giving notice in person in the local register office where you live - you must’ve been resident in the area for at least seven days before doing this
- Providing details of the date and venue where the registration of the civil partnership will take place - contacting the venue first is a sensible idea to ensure availability
- Providing personal details including the name, age, nationality and address of each person entering into the partnership, along with details of whether either has been married or in a civil partnership before
- Providing documentary evidence including a passport or birth certificate, or additional documents if one person is subject to immigration control
Provided that you complete the above and there aren’t any legal reasons or objections preventing you from going ahead, you can register the civil partnership.
For all practical purposes, the signing of the Partnership Registration register at the appointed moment before a registrar and two witnesses constitutes the registration of a civil partnership.
As to the venue for the registration, it can be in any register office or venue that’s approved to hold civil marriages - including religious venues if they choose to hold civil partnerships. Couples can choose whether or not to have a ceremony, but religious services are not permitted at the signing of the civil partnership schedule itself.
If you need legal advice before entering into a civil partnership, Slater and Gordon Lawyers can help on everything from pre-nuptial agreements to concerns over immigration status. Please don’t hesitate to call freephone on 0808 175 8000 or contact us online if you’ve a question. Our specialist civil partnership solicitors will be only too happy to help.
Dissolution of civil partnerships
Once registered, the Civil Partnership Act confers many legal rights to couples, most of which apply when the relationship comes to an end due to the death of one of the partners or by dissolution of the civil partnership.
In the event of death, the Civil Partnership Act confers on the surviving partner legal rights of succession to property and the right to claim provision from a deceased partner’s estate.
The dissolution process can be started if the relationship has irretrievably broken down. One person must apply for dissolution and state one of four relevant facts:
- Desertion - one partner has been deserted by the other for a period of two years or more
- Unreasonable behaviour - where it becomes intolerable for one partner to live with the other due to behaviour such as excessive drinking, drug misuse, gambling or domestic violence
- Two years living apart - where dissolution can be started if both parties agree
- Five years living apart - where dissolution can be started without consent, which means that only one partner agrees to dissolve the partnership
For more information, read our online legal advice guide to Civil Partnerships, which you can download and print.
The dissolution of a civil partnership doesn’t include provisions for dividing assets or child arrangements, so for these important issues it can be crucial to have a specialist family lawyer on your side.
Why choose Slater and Gordon’s civil partnership solicitors
Slater and Gordon Lawyers is home to the largest team of family lawyers in the country and we have offices throughout the UK. With our extensive experience in all kinds of personal and family law cases, we’ve built up strong expertise in civil partnership law. Our solicitors are experts in their field, so you can be confident that you’re receiving only the very best legal assistance.
Our UK contact centre is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Wherever you live and whenever you need us, our solicitors are there for you.