Mixed Sex Civil Partnerships Legalised

Until now, mixed sex couples in England and Wales have not had the option to choose between entering into a civil partnership or marriage.

From 2 December 2019, The Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019 allowed mixed sex couples to register their interest to enter into civil partnerships.  Once notice has been given to enter into a civil partnership, couples have to wait 28 days until the partnership can be registered.

The change in law follows a lengthy court case lead by Rebecca Steinfield and Charles Keidan. Ms Steinfield and Mr Keidan had applied to be civil partners as they wanted the benefits and legal security given by marriage, but felt the concept of marriage was patriarchal. Their attempt to register a civil partnership was denied, as the wording of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 specifically references same-sex couples. They appealed the decision but this was denied in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.  The case therefore went to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled that denying the couple a civil partnership was a breach of their Human Rights.

Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004. They created legally recognised relationships between two same-sex individuals, and have much of the same rights and entitlements as married couples (including marriage allowance tax relief, exemption from inheritance tax, and pensions). It is, therefore, unsurprising that the government has predicted that as many as 84,000 mixed sex partnerships could be registered in 2020.

The change in law is a welcome one for mixed sex couples who want the same financial protection and legal status as that afforded by marriage, who would otherwise be cohabiting, but without the traditional and religious associations of marriage.

For any advice on civil partnerships, cohabitation, divorce and financial matters arising on divorce or separation, please contact one of our experienced family solicitors who will be able to give you confidential advice on your options.

Written by Nusrat Siddique

Nusrat is a newly qualified Solicitor based in the Bromley family department

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