First registrations of opposite-sex civil partnerships

31st December 2019

New legal recognition

From early 2020, opposite-sex couples will be able to register civil partnerships in England and Wales, which will give your relationship legal recognition. If you choose to enter into a civil partnership it will give you added legal rights, as well as responsibilities.

Why is the law changing?

Since March 2014, same-sex couples have been able to choose whether they get married or enter into a civil partnership, but this was never possible for mixed-sex couples.
In 2018, a heterosexual couple who felt that the law was discriminatory took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was “unanimously ruled” in favour of the couple.
The judges ruled that current UK law was “incompatible” with human rights laws on discrimination and the right to a private and family life and felt that both same-sex and mixed-sex couples should be able to enter into a civil partnership.


Do you need legal advice regarding your marriage or your civil partnership? Contact our Family team now.


What is the difference between a civil partnership and marriage?

A civil partnership will provide a couple with the same legal rights as marriage in respect of house ownership, tax, inheritance and making “next of kin” decisions in hospital.

There are however the following differences:

• Civil partnerships are not recognised everywhere in the world,
• There is no compulsory requirement to have a ceremony for a civil partnership and you just have to sign the civil partnership document,
• Civil partnerships can be registered at any Registrar’s office or at any venue that has been approved, this means that anywhere that has been approved to hold civil marriages automatically has the approval to register civil partnerships,
• Adultery does not count as a ground for ending a civil partnership.

What does a civil partnership offer?

• Legal and financial protection for both parties in the event of the relationship ending,
• It is free of the religious connotations of marriage,
• Some object to marriage as an institution and its associations with property and patriarchy and civil partnerships, therefore, offer an alternative.

What does this mean for me?

Once a civil partnership is registered you will have the same rights and responsibilities as marriage.

It should be noted that once the new law comes into place, only same-sex couples will be able to convert their civil partnership to marriage. This is however likely to change in the future and there are ongoing discussions about this issue.


If you are thinking of entering into a civil partnership and need advice on whether a civil partnership is right for you, please contact Andrew Morris, Partner in the Cheltenham Family team on [email protected] or 01242 246456.

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