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Civil partnerships and the law

If you are in a civil partnership, or about to enter into one, you should know your rights when it comes to things like inheritance and children.

Even though the number of civil partnerships in England and Wales decreased from 5,646 in 2013 to 1,683 in 2014 following the introduction of same-sex marriage, it gives you many of the same rights as being married. But do you know where you stand when it comes to the personal, financial and legal side of things?

If you have a legal issue  or concern regarding your civil partnership, you can contact First4Lawyers for expert guidance.

What are civil partnerships?

A civil partnership is a legal union between same sex couples. In many ways, the law treats civil partners the same as married couples. 

As a civil partner you have the same property rights, social security and pension benefits, as well as the same inheritance tax exemptions as married couples of any gender.

You can also obtain parental responsibility for a partner's children. In such cases, you may also receive related insurance, tenancy and next-of-kin rights.

What are the legal differences between civil partnership and marriage?

In some key ways, the law is arguably stricter in the case of civil partnerships than it is in marriage.

For example, a person may dissolve a marriage if the other person was suffering from a venereal disease at the time of the wedding. This is not the case with civil partnerships.

Who can register a civil partnership?

Two people of the same sex can register a civil partnership as long as they fit the following criteria:

  • They are over the age of 16 (if either of them is under 18, they must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian).
  • They are not already legally married or in a civil partnership.
  • They are not closely related.

What legal issues might I face in a civil partnership?

The legal problems are much the same as you would face if you were married. They may include the following:

  • Dissolution
  • Finances and property after separation
  • Injunctions
  • Child matters (custody, adoption)
  • Domestic abuse
  • Immigration

Dissolving a civil partnership will not automatically settle your joint finances, or property issues. As a result, you must deal with these problems separately.

Both partners have a legal responsibility to support each other at the end of the union. For this reason, one partner’s legal claim to the finances of the other party does not end unless they obtain an Order of Court relating to finances.

In terms of property, there are many ways to resolve such issues. The one you choose will depend on your circumstances. To reach agreement, you must consider all of the assets the two of you hold. A resolution might involve the following:

  • Buying out your partner’s share (or vice versa).
  • Selling the property and sharing the equity.
  • Offsetting the equity in the property against other assets.
  • Reaching an agreement to buy out the partner at a later stage.
Money and Property when a relationship ends (gov.uk website)

How can I protect my interests before I enter into a civil partnership?

To protect your financial and property interests and those of your partner, it is advisable to enter into a pre-civil partnership agreement. This is much the same as a pre-nuptial agreement.

Such arrangements previously held no basis in English law, yet ever since the UK Supreme Court ruled in favour of a pre-nuptial agreement in 2010, the courts may uphold such contracts as long as they adhere to strict guidelines.

You can speak to the experts in family law available via First4Lawyers for guidance and information around drawing up a legally-binding pre-civil partnership. Our skill and expertise can give you peace of mind before entering into an agreement with a partner.

I have legal issues regarding my civil partnership – what should I do?

It is highly advisable you find an expert solicitor to help you reach a fair settlement. At First4Lawyers, we can guide you through the process.

No matter what legal issues you are facing in your civil partnership, we can appoint a specialist who’s experienced in that area of law and will work with you to achieve the desired outcome.

Get in touch today. You may be just a call or email away from settling your affairs. 

How to guides

Learn more about this area of law and what you need to know:

A guide to cohabitation agreements

In this guide, we'll help you understand cohabitation agreements

read more

How to convert a civil partnership into marriage

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how to convert a civil partnership into marriage

Read more

How to write a cohabitation agreement

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how to write a cohabitation agreement

Read more

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