Civil Partnerships

Civil partnerships have been allowed in the United Kingdom under the Civil Partnership Act which was enacted in 2004. This act allows same-sex couples to have the same rights and responsibilities in principle as a couple in a civil marriage.

Civil partners now have the same entitlement to property rights as married opposite-sex couples, the same exemption as married couples in areas such as inheritance tax, pension benefits and social security and also the ability to obtain parental responsibility for a partner’s children. On top of this, they can also have responsibility for reasonable maintenance of one’s partner and their children, tenancy rights, full life insurance recognition, next of kin rights in hospitals, and other rights traditionally accorded to married couples. There is now in place a formal process for dissolving partnerships which is similar to divorce proceedings.

Same-sex marriages were legalised through The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 which started in March 2014, although civil partnerships also remain as an option. There are also plans to grant those in a civil partnership in England or Wales the ability to convert their partnership into a marriage.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 does not grant that ability, however, it includes provision for its later introduction and does permit those already in civil partnership with one another to marry without first dissolving the mutual civil partnership.

In the UK you can get married or enter into a civil partnership is you are;

  • 16 or over
  • free to marry, or form a civil partnership (single, divorced or widowed)
  • not closely related

You need permission from your parents or guardians if you’re under 18 but you don’t need parental permission if you’re under 18 to get married in Scotland.

The following information is from the Citizens Advice Bureau

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a legal relationship which can be registered by two people of the same sex. If you are in a gay or lesbian relationship, registering a civil partnership will give your relationship legal recognition. This will give you added legal rights, as well as responsibilities.

To register a civil partnership, you and your partner must sign a civil partnership document in front of two witnesses and a registrar.

In some situations, a same-sex couple who have not registered a civil partnership will have the same legal rights and responsibilities as a couple who have registered a civil partnership. This will be the case, for example, when working out your entitlement to welfare benefits and tax credits.

Who can register a civil partnership?

You and your lesbian or gay partner can register a civil partnership as long as all the following circumstances apply:

  • you are both 16 or over. If you are 16 or 17, you will usually have to get written consent from your parents or legal guardians
  • you have lived in the same area in England or Wales for at least seven days
  • neither of you is already either a civil partner or married
  • you are not close blood relatives.
  • People aged 16 or 17 and parental consent

If you are 16 or 17, you will need the consent of each parent with parental responsibility and any legal guardian in order to register a civil partnership.

You may not be able to get the consent of your parents, perhaps because you don’t know where they are. Or your parents may refuse to give their consent for you to register a civil partnership. If this is the case, you can apply to a court for permission to register your civil partnership. You will need to get legal advice to do this.

If you have any questions queries or concerns about a civil partnership and feel that you need help then talk to Mark Reynolds Solicitors today and let us help you.