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Heterosexual Couples Cannot Have Civil Partnerships

The Court of Appeal ruled today on whether a heterosexual couple can have a civil partnership.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan were in the Royal Courts of Justice appealing a ruling that they could not have a civil partnership in law because they are not of the same sex.

The couple have argued that they have been discriminated against. Today their appeal was dismissed.

The couple wished to have their relationship legally recognised, but not by way of marriage. The couple are of the opinion that opening civil partnerships to both same-sex and mixed-sex couples is popular, fair and good for families.

Civil partners have the same legal rights as married couples with regards to adoption and the ability to apply for parental responsibility. They get the same income-related state benefits, such as tax credit and child support, in addition to entitlement to their partner’s estate on death.

Civil partners can also enter into pre-partnership agreements which, like prenuptial agreements, detail how assets and income should be divided in the event of a relationship breakdown. Like with marriage, civil partners can claim against each other’s income in the event that the relationship breaks down.

It is clear from the reaction to Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan’s case, that there are others who do not feel that the sacrament of marriage is right for them or their relationship. There are others who simply want a choice between getting married and forming a civil partnership. 

In the UK same-sex couples now have the choice to marry or become civil partners. This of course begs the question: should heterosexual couples have the option to formalise their relationship in an alternative way to marriage? Today’s ruling is sure to raise several questions.

As well as offering services relating to the unfortunate breakdown of a marriage, the family team at Slater and Gordon includes civil partnership specialists.

Additionally, if couples are seeking to dissolve their civil partnership we advise them to try and keep it amicable.

If you are able to go through a period of consultation with your ex and agree the terms on which you will issue your petition for dissolution then you can potentially save yourselves both time and money.

For more information read our online legal advice guide to civil partnerships and petitioner's guide to dissolution which you can download and print.

Katherine Muldoon is a family lawyer based in the Slater and Gordon Watford office. She has many years' experience dealing with both public and private law children matters, as well as divorce and finances.

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