Family law

What's the difference between marriage and civil partnership?

Civil partnerships confer many of the same rights and benefits as getting married. However, the two aren't quite the same, meaning that couples in a civil partnership need very specific wills in order to look after each other should the relationship break down.

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What is the difference between marriage and civil partnership?

  • Civil partners cannot call themselves 'married' for legal purposes
  • Civil partnership certificates include the names of both parents of the parties. (whereas marriage certificates include the names of only the fathers)
  • Adultery cannot be used as a reason to dissolve the civil partnership. That's because civil partnerships are currently only for same-sex couples, and the legal definition of adultery is that it occurs when a married person has a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex who isn't their spouse

However, over and above these differences, there are some very serious legal differences that should be of concern to everyone in a civil partnership: notably that in the event you separate or dissolve your civil partnership, the law doesn't confer the same rights with regard to the division of assets or child arrangements.

We advise those about to enter into a civil partnership to consider drafting binding pre-partnership and post-partnership agreements, following the advice of an experienced family lawyer.

Is a civil partnership the same as a civil marriage?

No. A civil marriage is simply the legal term for what used to be called a registry office wedding, in the days before you could get married in any licenced premises.

A civil marriage means you have the same rights as a religious marriage in the eyes of the law, but the ceremony is different. The marriage ceremony is conducted by a local council official known as a Registrar, rather than a vicar or priest in a church. The law also stipulates that the ceremony cannot have any religious content, including any songs or readings.

Slater and Gordon can advise on your legal rights whether you are civil partners or if you're legally married and can also provide legal representation in the event of dissolution or divorce.

Our experienced family lawyers are also here to help you draw up the binding pre-partnership and post-partnership agreements you may need when entering a civil partnership.

Not only can these help to ensure that both partners enter the civil partnership knowing exactly where they stand with regard to finances, they can also help to make sure that in the unfortunate event of dissolution, you will both be financially protected, with the minimum of acrimony.

To talk to an experienced family lawyer about pre-partnership and post-partnership agreements, call us on 0161 830 9632, or contact us and we will call you.

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