On 5 December 2005, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force. The legislation enables same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship – and every year thousands of gay and lesbian couples enter into a civil partnership and set up a life together with the knowledge that they are fully backed by law.
As of December 2014, Civil Partnerships can be converted into marriages.
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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?
Notice must be given to the General Register Office before you go about registering a Civil Partnership. 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?
Couples who decide to have a civil partnership 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.
How can a Civil Partnership be ended?
The formal term for the legal end to a Civil Partnership is known as ‘Civil Partnership Dissolution‘. To obtain a dissolution, you must have been in a registered Civil Partnership for at least 12 months.
The party initiating the dissolution of the Civil Partnership (the Petitioner) must complete and file with the Court a Petition setting out the reasons why the Civil Partnership should be dissolved. This Petition must be served upon the other party to the proceedings (the Respondent).
Click here to read the answers to your FAQs on Civil Partnership Dissolution
On what grounds can I obtain a Civil Partnership Dissolution?
A Civil Partnership can be dissolved on the grounds that it has broken down ‘irretrievably’. This is established by proving one of four facts?
1) The parties to the Civil Partnership have lived apart for a continuous period of two years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition and the Respondent consents to the dissolution
2) The parties to the Civil Partnership have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition.
3) The Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition.
4) The Respondent has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent.
What will happen to our children?
As with Divorce, the Court will not allow the Civil Partnership Dissolution unless it is satisfied that adequate arrangements have been put in place in relation to dependent children.
How can we sort out our finances?
First and foremost, it is advisable to seek legal advice.
An agreement as to how your assets are to be divided can be reached by;
- Negotiation between the parties and their solicitors.
- As a final resort, an application to the Court.
What factors will the Court take into account when ruling on the division of financial assets?
In deciding the best approach, the Court will take into account many factors, including;
- The welfare of any minor child of the family.
- The age of each party and the duration of the Civil Partnership.
- The financial needs, obligations and future responsibilities of each party to the Civil Partnership.
- The income and earning capacity, property and other financial resources of each party.
- Contributions of either party to the welfare of the family.
- Any physical or mental disability of either party to the Civil Partnership.
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the Civil Partnership.
- The conduct of each person, but only if it is so bad it would be unfair to ignore it.
- Any serious disadvantage to either person which may be caused by ending the Civil Partnership.
- Whether the case is an appropriate one for a ‘clean break’.
What orders can the Court make?
The Court can make a variety of Orders, including;
- Property Adjustment Order – this requires one party to transfer all/part of an interest in a property to the other party.
- Lump Sum Order – this provides that one party must pay the other a fixed sum of money.
- Periodic Payments Order – this provides that one spouse must pay the other a specified sum of money each month/week, or as appropriate.
- Secured Provision Order – a sum of money is set aside, the income from which is paid out as maintenance. That sum of money usually reverts back to the original payer.
- Pension Sharing Order – this provides for a specified percentage of the ‘cash equivalent transfer value’ (‘CETV’) of a pension to be transferred to from one party to another.
- Pension Attachment Order – the Court can make an Order directing Pension Trustees to pay a percentage of the lump sum or pension on maturity to the person named in the Order.
Do we have to go to Court?
In the vast majority of cases, and with help from their solicitors, the parties will reach a mutual agreement between themselves without to having ask the Court to adjudicate. Their solicitors will record such an agreement by way of a Consent Order made by the Court. It is very unlikely that either party or their solicitors will have to attend Court when the Judge comes to consider whether the Consent Order should be made.
It must be noted that even if an application has been made to the Court, the parties are able to settle at any point during the Court process.
Civil Partnership Solicitors
If you would like more information about our role in civil partnerships, or to find out how to go about registering one, contact us today.
Telephone us on 01273 604123 or
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org