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Change in the law announced to allow heterosexual couples to enter a Civil Partnership

The Government have confirmed that a change in the law will be introduced, although it is unclear at the present time when exactly that will be, to protect opposite sex couples who do not wish to get married, but wish to formalise their relationship by entering into a Civil Partnership. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 introduced Civil Partnerships for same sex couples before the law changed to enable same sex couples to get married. This change in the law having been introduced by The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. Same sex couples were also permitted to convert Civil Partnerships into marriage.

Civil Partnerships is a relationship between two people, which when the law is changed will be available to everyone, which is formed when they register to be each other’s Civil Partner. It would only be brought to an end on death, dissolution or annulment. Civil Partnerships create legal obligations and confer various benefits as for married couples which are not available to those who cohabit. For those who have not made a valid Will providing instructions for the distribution of their estate, the intestacy rules apply to Civil Partners in the same way as they do for married couples. Civil Partners also benefit from the same Inheritance Tax exemptions as married spouses.

The Government were placed under more pressure to commit to the introduction of Civil Partnerships for same sex couples following a Supreme Court case of Steinfeld & Keidan v Secretary of State for International Development which made it clear that there is no justification for the ongoing discrimination against heterosexual couples when same sex couples have been permitted to enter into Civil Partnerships since 2004.

Lynne Barton, Family Law Specialist said: “This is an important development for same sex couples, who will have a further option if, for various reasons, they do not wish to get married. If they enter in to a Civil Partnership they will be committing to creating significant financial and other obligations to one another. There is, however, still an ongoing and long awaited need to amend the law relating to cohabiting couples who neither wish to get married or enter into Civil Partnerships and commit to the legal obligations they create. Although the change in the law for heterosexual couples once introduced is helpful more changes are required to bring the law relating to cohabiting couples in line with the needs of the present day society when more people are choosing to live together rather than to get married.“

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Should you require any further details in relation to Civil Partnerships, Cohabitation Agreements or the rights of cohabitees generally, please contact Lynne Barton or Nicola Bennetts at Aldridge Brownlee LLP on 01202 294411, Kingsway House, 13 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 3JY, E-Mail: Lynne.Barton@absolicitors.com or Nicola.Bennetts@absolicitors.com for a fixed fee appointment.

If you would like more information about making a Will, please call one of our trusted and experienced Wills, Trust & Probate Solicitors based at our Bournemouth and Christchurch offices:

Clare Lawson on 01202 527008, E-Mail: Clare.Lawson@absolicitors.com
Moordown Office: 912 Wimborne Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH9 2DJ

Lloyd Thomas on 01202 294411, E-Mail: Lloyd.Thomas@absolicitors.com
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Andrew Lilley on 01425 282150, E-Mail: Andrew.Lilley@absolicitors.com
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