We help a range of clients with civil partnership advice, and so we thought we would put together this handy guide on what civil partnerships are, and what you need to know. Let’s start with the basics!
What is a civil partnership?
Very simply, a civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship between two people of the same sex. It essentially grants all the same rights and responsibilities as marriage.
What are those rights?
Same-sex couples united in a civil partnership are entitled to a variety of rights. These rights are very similar to those of married opposite-sex couples. For instance: property and tenancy rights, the same exemption as married couples for social security, pension benefits, and also inheritance tax.
Same-sex couples also have the ability to get parental responsibility for their partner’s children, as well as responsibility for the maintenance of one’s partner and any children they may have. Same-sex couples also have full life insurance recognition, have next of kin rights in hospitals, and a few other rights as well.
Who can enter into a civil partnership?
Any same-sex couple can enter into a civil partnership in the UK, just as long as the members of the couple are:
- aged 16 or over
- free to marry, or in other words single, divorced, or widowed
- not closely related to your partner
If you’re under the age of 18, you will need permission from your parents or guardians.
Is a civil partnership different from same-sex marriage?
Essentially, no. As we’ve already discussed, the rights and responsibilities associated with a civil partnership are almost exactly the same as for married couples of the opposite sex.
As of the 13th March 2014, same-sex marriage is now legal, and is now another option for same-sex couples. This legislation applies to England, Scotland, and Wales, but not Northern Ireland. You can also now convert your civil partnership into a marriage very easily:
How to convert a civil partnership in England and Wales:
You can convert your civil partnership into a marriage at either:
- a register office or local registration office
- or a religious premises where same sex marriages are allowed
To convert your civil partnership into a marriage, all you have to do is make an appointment at your local register office. There you’ll sign a ‘conversion into marriage’ declaration, for which you’ll need your original civil partnership certificate and your own ID. It costs £45 if your civil partnership was formed after 29 March 2014 – it’s free if you formed it before.
It costs £4 for a marriage certificate, and the date on your certificate will be when your civil partnership was formed. It’s that simple!
Does a civil partnership apply in the whole of the UK?
The short answer is no.
Out of the UK’s overseas colonies, same-sex marriage is legal only in the Pitcairn Islands. Civil partnerships are available in Jersey, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar. Scotland legalised same-sex marriage in December 2014. Northern Ireland has not yet recognised same-sex marriage, but do recognise civil partnerships.
If you need legal advice on civil partnerships or legal help on same-sex marriages, just give us a call. We’re open 7 days a week, and can provide legal advice over the phone for a fixed fee of £68. Call us today on 0203 002 4898 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.