Civil Partnerships for Heterosexual Couples available from next month
Our blog of 2 October 2018 “Addressing the ‘imbalance’ – Civil Partnerships for heterosexual couples” considered the case of Miss Steinfield and Mr Keidan who embarked on a campaign to give heterosexual couples the same rights as same sex couples to enter into Civil Partnerships.
After successfully taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court, Miss Steinfield and Mr Keidan’s case has now led to the Government to implementing new legislation to ensure heterosexual couples can now enter into Civil Partnerships. The Supreme Court had deemed that the current legislation was incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights as it discriminated against heterosexual couples.
As of 31 December 2019 heterosexual couples will have the right to enter into a civil partnership. In its last act of parliament the government hopes to encourage some of the estimated 3.4 million cohabiting unmarried couples to legally formalise their relationship. A civil partnership is a legal relationship which essentially provides the same rights and responsibilities as marriage. It can be arranged by your local authority Registrar of Marriages.
These changes also affect the areas of law such as parental responsibility, gender recognition, financial benefits and protection for religious organisations, all of which have had to be updated under the Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019
It is important to note here that these changes do not provide any greater legal protection to couples who are cohabiting but are not in formal Civil Partnerships or Marriages. This is an area of the law that has long been due an overhaul.
It remains to be seen to what extent this change will encourage cohabiting couples to enter into a Civil Partnership. However, it seems likely that it will appeal to many couples who don’t want to marry but do want a greater level of legal recognition of their relationship.
Couples who choose not to enter into a legally recognised relationship through either a Civil Partnership or Marriage should still take practical steps to secure their position, with unmarried couples benefiting from entering into a Cohabitation Agreement.
If you think you could benefit from such an agreement or would like advice on the implications of entering into a Civil Partnership or Marriage, please email or call our Family Law team today on 0113 227 9285.