Welcome to CivilPartnershipInfo.co.uk! The free guide for gay and lesbian couples in the UK considering a Civil Partnership.
A civil partnership is a legal marriage between couples that are gay or lesbian. Once a civil partnership occurs between these couples, they are entitled to receive similar treatment and benefits as that of any married couple.
On December 5, 2005, The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into effect in the UK, allowing couples of the same sex to have legal recognition of their relationship. Any couples who enter into a civil partnership obtain the new legal status of “Civil Partners”, instead of the traditional husband and wife status.
The act was not met without controversy, as the government had expected. Christian groups spoke out against civil partnerships, and committed mixed sex couples who live together argue that they do not receive the same rights as ‘married’ same sex couples now do.
The Ceremony & Registration
The Civil Partnership Act states that it will not allow any form of religious activity to occur during the process of registering the union. The act does not include a ceremony, and any couple that wishes to have a ceremony will need to contact the registration authority, where the union is to be entered, to find out whether a ceremony is possible.
During the registration. couples will be allowed to speak vows prior to signing the registration. Couples are also required to bring a minimum of two people, who will serve as witnesses and are able to sign the registration documents.
A same sex couple cannot enter into a civil partnership just anywhere. There are certain offices where the registration can take place; some examples being hotels, restaurants, and prestigious buildings. To enter the registration of a civil partnership there are a few steps to be taken:
- Visit any office where registration may occur, and give notice of your intention to form a civil partnership.
- Wait for fifteen days, the official notice period
- Sign the registration, the two witnesses present must also to sign the registration
After entering the civil partnership, couples will receive a package that will outline the responsibilities and rights of each party that entered into the union. These will help to determine what is allowed as partners in a civil partnership. The responsibilities and rights that are outlined will begin the moment the partnership begins.
Benefits & Rights
In comparison with a civil marriage, civil partnerships will have the following equal rights, and responsibilities:
- Benefits that are income-related will be considered in regards to joint treatment
- Tax, including inheritance tax
- Benefits from state pensions will also become a joint treatment
- The duty of providing maintenance to your partner and any children of either party
- Each party of the union will become a parental figure and thus become responsible for any children either person may have
- Inheritance in regards to an agreement of tenancy
- Domestic violence protection
- Access to compensation of fatal accidents
- Succeed to rights of tenancy
- The registration of civil partnership will have merit for the purposes of immigration
- Hospital visiting rights as next of kin
- Like traditional marriage, those that are involved in a civil partnership are exempt from being required to testify in court against one another
- Each partner has the responsibility to be assessed for child support, in the same manner as that of civil marriages
- Treatment comparable to that of a civil marriage in regards to life assurance
- Benefits that arise from Pension and Employment
Anonymity of Union
When heterosexual couples enter a civil marriage, certain information becomes available for public viewing, including names, occupations, and addresses of both parties.
However, because same sex marriages have become the centre of much controversy, and in effort to minimise the risk of harassment to either of the persons involved in a Civil Partnership, the government has decided that less information should be made public. Only names and occupations of the prospective civil partners are required to be made public.
Differences between Civil Partnerships and Civil Marriages
Although a civil partnership is essentially viewed as a “gay marriage”, between same sex partners, the reason it is not called a “gay marriage”, is that there are a few differences between a partnership and a marriage on a technical level.
A civil partnership becomes legal when the registration certificate is signed by both partners. This does not mean that it must be signed during a ceremony that is public or during any specific event. This allows the partner to enter into the partnership on a private basis. There need be no words exchanged. During a civil marriage, typically words are exchanged and then the register is signed.
A vast difference between a civil partnership and a civil marriage is that a civil marriage almost always contains religious aspects during the marriage. The word marriage is a religious word in itself. Additionally, a clergy can perform civil marriages, whereas only specified registrars can perform a civil partnership.
There are also vast similarities between the two. In both a civil partnership and a civil marriage, the couples are required to give public notice of the intentions. The records of both are kept as official and public documents with the registry offices. Couples are required to wait a total of 15 days prior to registration but after giving notice of the partnership. After the 15 day waiting period the registration is given, and then it is valid for one full year after the date of registration.
In order to enter into a civil partnership in the UK there are certain rules both participants must follow:
- Both parties will need to enter the registrar’s office, in person
- Y ou will then have a 7-day qualification of residence, to make sure there is a registrar available to perform your ceremony
- There are special offices you need to register at if either party is an immigrant
- You must be over the age of 18, or have written permission if you are between the ages of 16 and 18
- You must be free of any previous partnerships or civil marriages
- The notice must be made public during a 15-day period of waiting, so that any objections to the union are allowed to be made
England and Wales have 76 offices designated for the registration of civil partnerships. There are various costs that are integrated into registering within England and Wales. It will cost the couple wishing to give notice of a registration of a civil partnership £30.00 per person; to actually register, the couple is charged £40.00. There will also be additional charges for covering the cost of attendance of a registrar, and any costs associated with the premises the couple chooses to use for the ceremony.
A couple may register their civil partnership between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, the same as civil marriages, the only exception being in the case of a debilitating illness, where a recovery is not expected, when registration can take place at any time.
It is important to remember that a civil partnership is a legally binding agreement, working in the same way as that of a civil marriage. The extent of the similarities between civil partnerships and civil marriages deserve to be known, because with civil partnership not being specifically named, “marriage”, many people assume that it does not require the same honor and commitment as a civil marriage would.
Entering into a civil partnership should not be taken lightly and should be weighed heavily by both parties. Once a civil partnership is entered, both partners have the same rights and responsibilities. There is gain in responsibilities with regards to parental activities and requirements, as well as requirements to your partner. It is important to understand that this partnership will not end just because you want it to, if a dissolution of the partnership is wanted by the partners, then court proceedings must take place.
If one partner is from another country, that person will have to follow all of the rules and regulations for entering the country. The same rules will apply to same sex unions as those of civil marriages.
If couples have entered into a civil partnership in a country other than the UK, the partnership may still be recognised within the UK, if the country in which you were registered followed the same general guidelines. It is important to seek counsel if you are in this situation, to make sure your civil partnership is recognised in the UK.
Many couples wish to follow the traditions of a civil marriage and seek to change their surname to that of either partner, or combine to make a double barreled surname. This is allowed after the civil partnership is registered, but there is no requirement that either party change their name upon entering a civil partnership. To change your name you will need to follow the same steps as civil marriages. In order to legally change your surname, you will need to present some identification and your certificate of civil partnership. Most official government offices will accept your certificate of civil partnership as evidence of change of name, for example when applying for a passport or a driving licence, however, you may need to change your name by deed poll in order to prove your change of name to other organisations, including many banks and utility companies.
Dissolution of a Civil Partnership
Dissolution is the termination of a civil partnership; divorce for gay marriage. This is done in the same manner as divorce for civil marriage. To obtain a dissolution, you are required to adhere to the following legal manners:
- The couple must have remained within the civil partnership for at least one year
- A petition must be filed citing any reasons why the partnership should end
- In a civil partnership where children are involved within the family, a “Statement of Arrangements”, should be filed. This should include any plans for the children after the dissolution as taken place
It is the responsibility of the filing partner or petitioner to show proof that the civil partnership has suffered an irretrievable breakdown. There are rights on dissolution that each partner is granted throughout the process. These include fair division of property, residential arrangements and contact that is both appropriate and suitable for children.
There are four general factors that allow the court to subsequently honor the request of a petitioner, the party wishing to dissolve the civil partnership. The petitioner must be able to prove any of the following:
- The other partners unreasonable behavior
- Separation for a period of two years, with the other parties consent to the dissolution of the partnership
- Separation for a period of five years
- Desertion by the other partner for a minimum of two years
If you wish to have a partnerships dissolved, you must have had one or more of the listed reasons; the court will not grant the dissolution based on a loveless or boring existence within a civil partnership.
I created this web site after many days of research to find out just exactly what a Civil Partnership is, and how it would affect gay and lesbian couples wanting a gay marriage. I try to keep this site updated, and reflect any changes in legislation, but if you think I’ve missed something, please email me!