Civil Partnerships

On 5 December 2005, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force. This legislation enables same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship. Government estimates show that by 2010 over 22,000 gay and lesbian couples will have taken the plunge with their very own civil partnership ceremonies.

Who can form a Civil Partnership?

  • Same sex couples.
  • Both parties must be 16 years of age or over.
  • If under 18, the parties must obtain parental consent.
  • The parties must not be close blood relatives.
  • Any party who is already married or in a civil partnership is ineligible to register.

How can you obtain a Civil Partnership?

Before registering a civil partnership, notice must be given to the General Register Office. This notice is published for 15 days, giving an opportunity for formal objections to be raised. After 15 days, the Civil Partnership may be registered.

A Civil Partnership can be registered in England and Wales in a register office or approved premises. The Civil Partnership is registered when both parties sign a legal document called a Civil Partnership schedule. This document must be signed in the presence of a Registrar and two witnesses.

What are the benefits of Civil Partnership?

Owing to the recent changes in the law, couples in civil partnerships can enjoy many of the same financial privileges as married couples, notably;

  • Inheritance benefits.
  • Equal treatment for tax purposes.
  • Employment benefits.
  • Pension benefits.
  • Life insurance recognition.
  • Access to fatal accidents compensation.
  • The right to be assessed in the same way as married couples in relation to National Insurance and means tested benefits.
  • The ability to claim lump sum and property adjustment orders and maintenance, in the event that the civil partnership is formally dissolved.

There are also many other significant benefits, including;

  • Rights to parental responsibility and the ability to apply for a Residence/Contact Order in relation to a partner's children.
  • Rights as a 'next of kin' in hospitals.
  • Recognition for immigration purposes.
  • Greater protection from domestic violence.

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