First registrations of opposite-sex civil partnerships set for New Year’s Eve
Heterosexual couples looking to formally commit to each other now have an alternative to the institution of marriage, as new legislation has been approved by the House of Lords to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples as well as same-sex couples.
Opposite-sex couples have been able register their intent to enter a civil partnership in England and Wales since 2 December 2019 but must allow a minimum 28 days’ notice period before the ceremony takes place. This means that the first opposite-sex civil partnerships are likely to be conducted on New Year’s Eve, 31 December 2019.
The news comes after a three-and-a-half-year legal battle, heralded by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan who won their case against the government in The Supreme Court. Their victory led the government to amend the Civil Partnership Act and allow heterosexual couples the option to become civil partners.
The change in the law has been welcomed by civil libertarians and lawyers. Michelle Uppal, partner and head of family law at Miles & Partners Solicitors in the City of London commended the decision:
‘The nature of family relationships has been revolutionized, as couples of either gender mix finally have an equal choice about which legally recognised union they wish to enter into as they build their future together. For some couples, the institution of marriage and its history just does not sit well and now finally there is equality’‘
Civil partners share the same rights to inheritance and property as married couples. They can also turn to the courts for assistance in resolving finances should they later divorce or dissolve their civil partnership.
This is distinctly unlike couples who simply live together, who do not automatically enjoy such privileges. Unmarried couples are strongly advised to make a ‘cohabitation agreement’ to clarify their intentions and avoid disputes over property and finance should they later separate.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.