Civil Partnership

Civil Partnership and Same Sex Marriage

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA 2004) came into force on 5th December 2005.  The legislation enables same-sex couples to form legally recognised civil partnerships.  Civil partners assume many legal rights and responsibilities for each other.  Many of these rights and responsibilities are the same as those enjoyed by married couples.

The CPA 2004 makes amendments to other statutes including the Children Act 1989, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 enable a civil partner to acquire parental responsibility and to ensure that the definition of a “child of the family” includes civil partners.  A civil partner is also entitled to apply for Residency or Contact Order.

The CPA 2004 allows for civil partners to apply for Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders and civil partners can claim discrimination on the grounds of their civil partnership.

The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 makes the marriage of same-sex couples lawful.  As civil partnerships are also lawful, this means that same-sex partners have the choice between marriage and civil partnership if they wish to formalise their relationship.  Civil partnerships can be converted into a marriage through a declaration before a Superintendent Registrar.  No formal ceremony is required.

Difference between same sex civil partnerships and marriage

In reality, there are very few differences between civil partnerships and marriage on a legal basis.

The civil partnership is formed on signing the register rather than the exchange of vows.  The requirements to form a valid civil partnership are similar to marriages save that civil partners must be the same sex.  Further, non-consummation and venereal disease grounds are not included in the grounds for the annulment of a civil partnership as they are in a marriage between different sex couples.

Adultery is not a fact to establish the ground for dissolution of a civil partnership as it is in a different sex couples marriage.


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