Theresa May has announced that all couples in England and Wales are allowed civil partnerships rather than get married.
The key reasons that people are attracted to civil partnerships include removing the religious context and “traditional gender roles”, and gaining greater property rights than if unmarried.
The move follows a recent Supreme Court ruling and will extend the option of civil partnerships, which were first available to same-sex couples in 2004, to mixed-sex couples. The legislation around this is yet to be agreed, but there have already been many instances of couples proposing Civil Partnerships in anticipation.
The Supreme Court stated that the current laws are incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights, and found that it was discriminatory to restrict civil partnerships to gay couples.
More than 130,000 people signed an online petition in support of civil partnerships for everyone, and in June, there was the first instance of a mixed-sex couple obtaining Civil Partnership status in the UK.
In a civil partnership, a couple has the same legal treatment in terms of inheritance, tax, next-of-kin arrangement and pensions as marriage.
Many other European countries have already made civil partnerships gender-neutral, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece and Cyprus. However, civil partnerships have been scrapped in other countries, after legalising same-sex marriages, in places such as Denmark and Germany.
Many of the 3.3 million co-habiting couples in the UK, nearly half of whom have children, believe that they have similar rights and protections over property as married couples, but this is not the case. For those not looking to marry, civil partnerships can have many of the same benefits as marriage.
The dissolution of a civil partnership has some differences to a marital divorce, however like any separation the process will vary dependent on the couple’s circumstances.
If you’re interested in any of the topics raised in this article, or for advice regarding Family Law, please contact Cristina Court on 01949 830 804, or call to speak to one of the Family team on 0115 9888 777.