Can heterosexual couples enter into a Civil Partnership?

Rutters Solicitors - Family Matters

Can heterosexual couples enter into a Civil Partnership?

Civil Partnership - Family

Back in October 2018 it was decided that UK law which does not allow heterosexual couples to enter into Civil Partnerships was not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Since then a change to the law by way of a Bill to allow heterosexual couples to enter into a Civil Partnership has been making its way through the Houses of Parliament and is now awaiting Royal Assent. Royal Assent is when it is approved by the Queen and a timescale set for when the new law will start.

The draft Bill (Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) 2017-19) proposes that the law is changed by 31 December 2019 to allow heterosexual couples to enter into a Civil Partnership. Between now and December the impact of a change to the law will be considered and whether any other existing laws will need to be altered, if the law is changed.

We will now just have to wait to see whether the change in the law does come into force prior to 31 December 2019, or whether it is delayed. Until the change to the law comes into force heterosexual couples still cannot enter into a Civil Partnership.

What is a Civil Partnership?
A Civil Partnership is a legal relationship entered into which is registered, just like a marriage. Just like being married a Civil Partnership confirms on a couple rights and responsibilities. In the event of a breakdown of a Civil Partnership, a couple can apply for it to be dissolved and the individuals can make financial claims against one another arising out of the breakdown of the Civil Partnership, just like a married couple when they divorce. However, as the law currently stands only same sex couples can enter into a Civil Partnership.

Is a Civil Partnership the same as “Common Law Husband and Wife”?
No. The phrase Common Law Husband Wife is just that, it is a phrase which people often apply to themselves if they are just living together. A lot of people still think that due to this phrase they have legal rights at the end of the relationship, just like a divorcing couple. This is not correct. If a couple has simply lived together and not married or entered into a Civil Partnership they do not enjoy access to the full financial claims which married couples or Civil Partners can apply for through the court.

Whether someone who has just cohabited with their partner has any financial claim will depend on looking at whether they have a financial claim due to some other reason, such as under property law, trust law, contract law, children law, and child support law. Whereas if you are married, the potential to pursue financial claims stems from the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 or if you entered into a Civil Partnership, the potential to pursue financial claims stems from the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

If you wish to seek further advice please contact Genette Gale our Family Solicitor at Rutters on 01747 852377. This article was written on 19.03.19.