Personal Law

Changes To Civil Partnership Laws – How are heterosexual couples affected?

October 9, 2018

The Supreme Court has recently decided that mixed-sex, heterosexual, couples have the right to choose whether they wish to marry, or be civil partners.

This right had previously only been available to same-sex couples and the Supreme Court has decided that this goes against the European Convention of Human Rights. Therefore, the Civil Partnership Act 2004, will need to be amended to allow mixed-sex couples the option of being in a Civil Partnership. But what does this mean in reality?

What is a Civil Partnership?

Civil Partnerships were created under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, and gave same-sex couples, who were not legally allowed to wed at the time, the right to enjoy similar legal and financial protection as those couples who could marry. Subsequent legislation has been created allowing for same-sex couples to marry, but Civil Partnerships remained unavailable to heterosexual couples. This is now set to change.

Why do heterosexual couples want this right?

Many women feel as though marriage as an institution doesn’t reflect their equal relationship due to the roots it has in traditional gender roles. Some women feel as though the idea of marriage means that they are treated as property and therefore the idea of a Civil Partnership will ensure they are treated as equals.

Coupled with this there are around 3.3 million co-habiting couples in the UK, and many of these people believe they have similar rights to those who are married. This is not the case. People who are co-habiting have fewer inheritance, property and pension rights than married couples. Therefore, should they wish, they can now become Civil Partners and receive the above benefits, without having, or feeling the need, to get married.

However, the main thing to remember is that this law has yet to be implemented and will be brought into effect in the near future. Therefore, if you wish to enter into a Civil Partnership in the future, you will need to bear all of the above in mind, and ensure the documentation is drafted correctly, before doing so.

What to do next

If you are thinking of entering into a marriage, but now think you would rather enter into a Civil Partnership, or are unsure of your rights as a married couple, or are possibly looking at pre-nuptial or cohabitation agreements, then please contact us on 01795 472291 to discuss the benefits of a Civil Partnership.

If you are currently co-habiting with your partner, but have not taken any steps to either get married or form a Cohabitation Agreement or Civil Partnership, act now to ensure your inheritance, property and pension rights are protected.

Gordon Johnson