Marriage & Civil Partnerships

Blanchards Law is a niche family law practice with divorce solicitors, mediators and collaborative lawyers.

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The difference between marriage and civil partnership

Since 31 December 2019 couples of the opposite sex have been able to enter into a civil partnership. Following this momentous change, both opposite and same sex couples in England and Wales can now choose between a civil partnership and marriage when they formalise their relationship.

What is the difference between civil partnership and marriage? Why should you choose one over the other?

With civil partnerships being a relatively new concept, it is essential you receive the best possible and up to date advice. Whether you have been living together or have entered into a civil partnership, Blanchards Law will be able to guide you through the separation and dissolution process.

The difference between marriage and civil partnership is not just about whether you make your commitment known in a church or a registry office.

There is currently a lot of confusion surrounding this topic, so we at Blanchards Law will try to make it easier for you to understand:

From a legal standpoint, these two unions share very similar characteristics. In fact, civil partners have exactly the same legal rights in many areas of the law, including:

Essentially, there are very few differences from a legal standpoint between marriage and civil partnerships. There are slight variations in terms of financial rights, for example if one partner dies then the surviving partner may receive a lower pension share than they would had the couple been married.

Who can get married?

Marriage has always been available for heterosexual couples. In 2014, legislation allowing same-sex marriage came into force in the UK. This means that marriage is open to everyone in the UK, except in Northern Ireland, where same-sex marriage is not legal. Same-sex couples who married in England and Wales will be treated as civil partners in Northern Ireland.

This means that legally, everyone aged 16 or over, not already married or in a civil partnership and not closely related to their partner can get married.

Civil Partnership

A civil partnership is a legal relationship entered into by a couple which is registered and provides them with similar legal rights to married couples.

There are a variety of reasons why couples choose not to marry, for example, those who have been married before may have personal or religious beliefs for not repeating the process, whereas others object to the religious associations of a traditional marriage and marriage ceremony.

What are the differences between a marriage and a civil partnership?

There are few notable differences:

A marriage certificate requires just the names of both partners’ fathers, while a civil partnership certificate requires the names of both parents

Civil partners cannot call themselves ‘married’ for legal purposes.

While civil partnerships do not come with the same traditional and religious connotations, the rights and obligations are almost identical to those of marriage. This extends not only to the available financial provision upon separation but also in respect of the rules of inheritance and available tax entitlements.

The similarities between marriage and civil partnership

When it comes to rights shared by civil partners, there are a number that are similar to married couples. They share the same property rights, pension benefits and the ability to obtain parental responsibility for a partner’s child.

They also have the same rights of next of kin in hospitals as married couples and are also exempt from inheritance tax.

There are more similarities than there are differences between marriage and civil partnership.

Converting civil partnership into marriage

If you entered into a civil partnership, but perhaps always wanted to be married, it is now possible. You can convert your civil partnership into a legal marriage in the UK.

Ending a marriage or a civil partnership

A marriage is ended with divorce by obtaining a decree absolute, while a civil partnership is ended with dissolution by obtaining a dissolution order, although the process is fundamentally the same

The incoming no-fault divorce is set to make ending a marriage more straightforward. Similar changes are also going to come into effect around the dissolution of a civil partnership.

This is the first major change in divorce law in decades, allowing couples to split without blaming one another. Couples will be able to divorce without one person having to prove wrongdoing on the part of the other. The incoming legislation will make it easier to dissolve a civil partnership without placing blame on your partner.

The government has not yet stated when the new legislation will be introduced.

If you have chosen to live with your partner, but do not want to enter into a marriage or civil partnership, you may think you would be considered ‘common law spouses’. However, although the terms common-law wife or husband are frequently used to describe a couple who live together, these relationships do not have legal recognition.

This could leave many people in for a shock when their relationships end and they discover they are not entitled to what they thought they were.

Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or contact us through our enquiry form. All initial enquiries are free and without obligation.If you have questions about your current representation, case or fees, Please give us a call on a free, no obligation basis, and we will be happy to discuss these and our charging structure with you.

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Stories & case studies to help you

Please read our blogs on our marriage and civil partnerships work and practice. Like you, many client have come to us because the blogs are informative and designed to help you understand what you can do to resolve your situation.

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