Civil Partnerships were introduced by a Labour Government in 2004, under the Civil Partnership Act and applied to same sex couples over the age of 16. Same sex marriage was not legal in 2004, this was the only remedy available for same sex couples seeking the same tax benefits, inheritance and pension rights as married couples.
Same sex marriage came into effect in 2014. This led to an unusual situation, same sex couples had more choice than heterosexual couples. England became the only country in the EU in that situation which finally brought about the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Act 2019
Couples sometimes choose Civil Partnership over marriage as they do not want a religious ceremony or because they feel that marriage is an outdated patriarchal concept.
The differences between Civil Partnership and marriage are:
- Civil Partnerships cannot be formed in a religious ceremony on a religious premise,
- Marriage is formed by vows; Civil Partnerships are formed by signing of the Civil Partnership document,
- Only the father’s name features on the marriage certificate where as both parent’s names appear on the civil partnership document,
- Marriages are ended by divorce and Civil Partnerships by dissolution although the procedure is fundamentally the same,
- A Civil Partnership is not voidable on the basis of non-consummation (nor does it make a same sex marriage voidable)
- Adultery is only a ground for dissolution (or divorce) if it is committed with a person of the opposite sex
Many cohabiting couples mistakenly believe that they have the same rights as married couples and those in a civil partnership, as they have heard the term ‘common law husband and wife’. Instead, people who live together outside of a marriage or civil partnership are treated as if they are single.
For couples not wishing to enter into a marriage or civil partnership, but wishing to formalise their living arrangements, they could consider a Cohabitation Agreement.
Contact Taylor Bracewell’s Family Team on 0114 272 1884 or 01302 341414 for further information.