As a result of one of Parliament’s final acts before it was dissolved for the General Election, mixed-sex couples will be able to enter into Civil Partnerships from 31 December 2019. At the time of writing, Civil Partnerships are reserved exclusively for same-sex couples.
When same-sex couples were allowed to marry in England & Wales, from March 2014 onwards, Civil Partnerships may have been seen as an unattractive option. Following the Supreme Court case brought by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, however, the law has now changed to open up Civil Partnerships to mixed-sex couples.
The effect of this change could be far-reaching. For many mixed-sex couples who choose not to marry, a Civil Partnership would give them equivalent rights to a married couple, in bringing claims against one another if their relationship broke down. It has long been the case that mixed-sex couples who, for whatever reason, prefer not to marry have had only limited legal remedies available to them on separation. While a married couple can bring claims against one another in the event of divorce, contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as a “common law marriage”. In practice, that means that cohabiting couples often find they have no claims against one another at all when they split up, except perhaps in connection with any children they may have.
In short, by entering into a Civil Partnership, a cohabiting couple could avoid Marriage but still have a legal safety-net arising from their relationship. These advantages might be significant, particularly where there is a disparity between the parties assets and income, or where there are children are involved.
For more information on the issues raised in this article, please contact Patrick Mulcare, Director and Head of Family Law at Spratt Endicott Solicitors, on 01295 204000 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Disclaimer: While everything has been done to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this article, it is a general guide only. It is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought in relation to the particular facts of a given situation.1§