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What is a civil partnership

What is a civil partnership

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  • Advice

    A civil partnership is a legal status acquired by couples who register as civil partners, under the Civil Partnership Act 2004. The status of civil partnership gives these couples similar legal rights as married couples.


    Who can enter into a civil partnership? 

    To enter into a civil partnership, you must be aged 18 or over, a same-sex couple and not in an existing marriage or civil partnership, if you are aged 16-17, you may enter into a civil partnership with parental consent. The two parties must not be related to one another.


    What rights does a civil partnership confer

    Although the law gives couples in a civil partnership many of the same benefits of a married couple, the law does not treat the two the same in matters of child arrangements and separation. Before entering into a civil partnership, a couple must enter into pre-partnership and post-partnership agreements. It is strongly advised that a couple seek specialist legal advice before entering into these agreements. 

    A civil partnership does confer the following rights:

    • Recognised as partners next of kin;
    • Ability to make an application to obtain parental responsibility for partners children;
    • Recognised the same as married couples for life insurance;
    • Ability to enjoy the benefits of partners pension and benefits; and
    • Automatic inheritance of the partner's estate if they die intestate (as long as there are no other claims on the partner's estate).


    Differences between marriage and a civil partnership

    Although those in a civil partnership may regard themselves as “married” there are some fundamental differences

    • For legal purposes, they cannot refer to themselves as ‘married’;
    • Civil partnership certificates hold names of both parents; and
    • ‘Adultery’ cannot be used as a reason to dissolve a civil partnership, as the definition of ‘adultery’ states ‘adultery occurs when a married person has a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex who isn’t their spouse’.


    How do I register a civil partnership?

    To enter into a civil partnership, you should visit your local registry office where the officers there will be able to guide you through the process.

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