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What are the Differences Between a Marriage & a Civil Partnership?

difference marriage civil partnership lawyer ChesterfieldIf you’re thinking about making a long-term commitment to your partner and formalising your relationship, marriage may seem like the obvious choice. But there’s another way to make a lifelong commitment that offers similar legal and financial security; and that’s a Civil Partnership. Whether you’re looking to move away from tradition, you’re uncomfortable with the religious connotations associated with marriage, or you simply like the idea of being ‘equal partners’, weighing up the differences may be beneficial before you make a decision.

What Defines a Civil Partnership?

Civil partnerships officially came into force in 2004, and for the most part, gave same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples. At that time, same-sex couples were not legally allowed to marry in England and Wales. Fortunately, same-sex marriage was legalised in 2014, which meant same-sex couples then had the choice between marriage and civil partnership. Opposite sex Civil Partnerships, however, only came into force last year, with the introduction of the Civil Partnership (Opposite sex Couples) Regulations 2019.

Key Differences Between Marriages & Civil Partnerships

For both same sex couples and opposite sex couples, Civil Partnerships are separate legal regimes from marriage. Unlike marriage, where prescribed words must be solemnly spoken, Civil Partnerships are registered simply by signing the civil partnership document, with no words required to be spoken. Although people embarking on Civil Partnerships may choose to incorporate some sort of ceremony, the actual formation of a Civil Partnership is an entirely civil event.

There are other subtle differences too, including the following:

  • The names of both parents of the parties are included on Civil Partnership; marriage certificates only contain the name of the father.
  • Grounds for ending a civil partnership do not include adultery.
  • There are some places in the world where Civil partnerships are not recognised.

Similarities Between Marriages & Civil Partnerships

There are many similarities when it comes to rights shared by married couples and those shared by civil partners. For example, married couples and civil partners share the same property rights and pension benefits, and they share the ability to obtain parental responsibility for a partner’s child. When it comes to next of kin, married couples and civil partners also have the same rights, as well as being exempt from inheritance tax.

Divorce and Dissolution

Another key difference between marriages and Civil Partnerships is the way that they can be ended. Divorce and dissolution are both ways to end a legally binding relationship; but divorce applies to couples who are legally married, and dissolution applies to those in a civil partnership. The marriage or civil partnership must have been in effect for at least a year in order to apply for either of these.

If you’d like to speak to an expert about entering into a marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation agreement, or you’d like some advice regarding a divorce or dissolution, Vines Legal can help. Contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 20 Jul 2020, 15:20 PM

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