This week (Monday 2nd December 2019) marked the first day on which mixed sex couples can register their intention to enter into a Civil Partnership. Previously, Civil Partnerships were available only to same sex couples however campaigners felt that this was unfair and fought to address the imbalance. The government, in October 2018, therefore announced its intention to pass laws to make Civil Partnerships available to same sex couples.

Of course marriage is the usual arrangement whereby mixed sex couples make a commitment to one another. So why would a Civil Partnership be a preferred option?

As Civil Partnerships were initially meant to provide same sex couples with a similar arrangement to marriage they do provide the same security and benefits as marriage in terms of tax benefits, pension entitlement and inheritance.

They do not however have the same religious connotations as a marriage such that those entering into a Civil Partnership do not need to align themselves with any particular religion. There are no hymns or religious readings during the ceremony. The ceremony does not involve the exchanging of vows and the arrangement is valid once the relevant documentation has been signed.

Given the rights and responsibilities provided by the Civil Partnership, that also means that those rights and responsibilities need to be considered and could be the subject of litigation should the Civil Partnership break down. Whereas previously, those who were not married had very little rights to make a financial claim, Civil Partnerships meant that it was possible to provide that security without the need to enter into a marriage.

It has long been assumed that those living together in a committed relationship, sometimes referred to as a Common Law Marriage, have rights and responsibilities that can be enforced. However that is not the case. A Civil partnership could therefore be of benefit to those who were living together in a committed relationship but who did not want to consider marriage as a way of formalising that arrangement for whatever reason.

A 28 day period of notice is required before a Civil Partnership can take place and so as the 2nd December was the first date upon which such notice could be given we can expect the first mixed sex Civil Partnerships to be celebrated around New Years Eve.

If you require any further information about this or any other Family Law matter please contact Farleys’ experienced family team on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.