An introduction into Civil Partnerships
A civil partnership is a formal legal recognition of a relationship between partners of the same sex. Once a civil partnership has been legally formed, the parties are in a legal position very similar to those who are married.
A civil partnership comes into being once the formalities set out in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 have been complied with. These formalities are very similar to those applying to marriage. The ceremony is conducted by the Registrar in premises which are licensed for that purpose.
Once a civil partnership has been formed, the partners have rights and responsibilities to each other and in relation to any child, either adopted or, in the case of female partners, born to one or both of the partners.
Civil partners are in the same legal position as married couples in most areas including:-
- social security
- property rights
- life insurance
- inheritance tax
If a civil partnership breaks down, an application can be made to the court for the partnership to be brought to a legal end. This is a formal process and the ground on which the partnership is said to have broken down must be stated. Both parties have to be told that an application has been made to the court.
When a civil partnership ends, if the circumstances are appropriate, one party can claim financial support from the other or a share of any assets. Similarly support can be claimed for a child or children. As with married couples, it is possible for civil partners to enter into an agreement regarding, for example, what assets were brought into the partnership and how they accept things should be settled if the partnership ends. Whether that agreement would be upheld by the court in the event of a dispute, depends on the same factors as apply to married couples.
Earlier this year the law was changed and it is now legally possible for same sex parties to enter into a formal legal marriage. Whether this will see the end of civil partnerships, time will tell.
If you are contemplating entering a civil partnership or your civil partnership has or looks as though it may come to an end, there are legal considerations that you ought to take into account. Please contact us and one of our experts with experience in this area will be pleased to help.