In March 2019 the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc.) Act 2019 was passed, amending the eligibility criteria in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to allow opposite-sex couples to register civil partnerships.
This followed the high profile legal battle of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who took their case all the way to the Supreme Court; which unanimously found that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 – which only applies to same-sex couples – is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Previously only same sex couples were allowed to enter into a Civil Partnership, which the Supreme Court found to be discriminatory.
It is welcome news for those couples who are not keen on the traditional form of marriage but have led their lives together as husband and wife. A Civil Partnership provides all the protections of a marriage (including spousal benefits of pensions) but without the ceremony.
So what are the implications for Family Law? Well actually it is pretty much business as usual. A Civil Partnership provides the same protections and reliefs available as those to married couples. On a dissolution, this includes financial claims for pensions, income and property. In comparison to a same-sex Civil Partnership however, for now opposite-sex couples cannot convert their civil partnerships to marriage.
An obligatory word of caution must go to those couples entering into a Civil Partnership in their later years who perhaps would like to protect pre-acquired assets, for example for the benefit of their children. In those circumstances a Pre-Civil Partnership agreement would be advisable.
If you would like advice prior to or following a Civil Partnership, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, contact Andrew Smith or Lilly Grant in our York office, Chris Burns or Sophie Arrowsmith in our Leeds office or Richard Buckley in our Sheffield office.
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.