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According to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 same-sex couples have the opportunity to register their relationship as a Civil Partnership, provided both partners are aged 16 or over.
The Civil Partnership Act is ground-breaking in the UK, conferring upon registrants legal rights akin to those enjoyed by (heterosexual) married couples. It does not 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.
Civil Partnership Registration is a straightforward process akin to civil marriage. Couples are required to have lived in England or Wales for at least a week, and to have given at least 15 days’ notice of their desire to register and the time and place of their intended registration at a licensed location; which can be practically anywhere but religious premises.
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.
Once registered, the Civil Partnership Act confers many legal rights, most of which apply when the relationship comes to an end on 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.
For more information read our online legal advice guide to Civil Partnerships which you can download and print.
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