What is a civil partnership?
A civil partnership is a legal arrangement between a couple, which gives them the same legal rights as a married couple.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 initially only allowed same-sex couples over the age of 16 to enter into a civil partnership, but in 2019 this was extended to opposite-sex couples.
What is the difference between marriage and a civil partnership?
The legal rights of civil partners are the same as married couples.
The main difference between a marriage and a civil partnership is that marriage has traditional and religious connotations, which not everybody feels comfortable with. Those who have been married before might also prefer a civil partnership.
The only other differences are:
- Marriage partners receive a marriage certificate, and civil partners receive a civil partnership document.
- Marriages are ended by divorce and civil partnerships are ended by dissolution. The process, however, is the same.
What are the legal rights of those in a civil partnership?
As with married couples, civil partners have the following legal rights:
Civil partners enjoy the same financial rights as married couples. This covers taxes, pensions, life insurance, social security and more.
A civil partner who does not hold the legal title to their home has the right to stay there if the relationship breaks down. This can only be changed by a court order.
The same applies to those who live in rented homes. A civil partner who is not named on a tenancy agreement still has the right to remain.
Civil partners have the right to apply for parental responsibility for their partner’s children. If the civil partnership is dissolved, one partner may have to pay child maintenance to the other.
Next of kin
Civil partners are each other’s next of kin. They have the right to be informed and updated, for example, if their partner goes into hospital. Like married couples, civil partners do not have the automatic right to make decisions for each other if one of them loses mental capacity. To be able to make decisions for another person, a power of attorney is required.
What is a pre-partnership agreement?
A pre-partnership agreement is the same as a pre-nuptial agreement for married couples. It is signed before a couple enters into a civil partnership. The agreement protects a couple financially if their relationship breaks down by setting out how assets will be shared.
Although it may feel unromantic, it can offer peace of mind as nobody can predict what is around the corner. If a civil partnership is dissolved, having a pre-partnership agreement in place can reduce stress at a very difficult time.