Family law

How do I enter a civil partnership?

While a civil partnership offers some of the same legal and financial benefits of marriage, these aren't exactly the same. So it's important to make sure you have the right pre-partnership and post-partnership agreements in place.

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How do I enter into a civil partnership?

You are free to enter into a civil partnership as long as you are the same sex, over the age of 18 and not currently married or in another civil partnership.

People 16 to 17 years of age may also enter into a civil partnership, but only with parental consent.

To register the partnership, you give notice to the register office for the area in which you are living; after having lived there for at least seven days of residence in the area. You must then wait at least fifteen days, but less than a year before signing the civil partnership schedule in the presence of the Registrar and two witnesses.

You need to bear in mind that you cannot have a religious service at the same time as this registration; but there is nothing to stop you having a religious ceremony such as a blessing before or after the registration takes place.

What rights does a civil partnership confer?

It's important to understand that while a civil partnership confers many of the same benefits as marriage, the law does not treat the two in quite the same way when it comes to things like division of assets or child arrangements in the event of separation.

It's important to have the correct pre-partnership and post-partnership agreements in place before you enter into a civil partnership, based on the advice of an experienced family lawyer.

However, a civil partnership does confer a number of valuable rights, including:

• Being recognised as each other's next-of-kin

• Applying for parental responsibility for each other's children

• Being treated as a married couple for the purposes of life insurance

• Enjoying additional employment and pension benefits

• Inheriting each other's property automatically if one partner dies intestate (I.e. without a will) subject to the intestacy rules, as long as there are no other claims on their estate

What other agreements might we need?

Everyone goes into a civil partnership hoping that it will last forever; but you should still have agreements in place to protect you both in the event that your relationship should break down.

That's why we often advise clients considering a civil partnership to put in place pre- or post-partnership agreements that are equivalent to pre-nuptial agreements for married couples.

Some civil partnerships are entered into in later life, when one or both of you may have built up substantial pensions or property assets. It may also be the case that you wish to ring fence some of your assets for children from a previous relationship.

In cases such as this, pre or post partnership agreements may give you protection - as long as they are entered into freely – and can prevent a lot of conflict and heartache in the event that your partnership is ever dissolved.

Want to know more about entering a civil partnership?

You can find out more about pre- and post-partnership agreements from one of our expert family solicitors by calling 0330 041 5869 or by contacting us online today when we will be happy to call you and discuss your next steps without obligation.

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