After Theresa May’s announcement that all couples in England and Wales will be able to choose to have a civil partnership rather than get married, a move, which follows a Supreme Court ruling to give mixed-sex couples and their families the option of greater security and addresses the “imbalance” that allows same-sex couples to choose, but not mixed-sex couples, Katy Osborne, Head of our Family team, discusses the differences between marriage and civil partnership.
The fundamental difference is perhaps historical. It was that previously, only heterosexual couples who could marry. Civil partnerships were introduced to essentially give same-sex couples the same legal rights and protections as married couples. These rights are very important on death or breakdown of the relationship.
However, since 2014, same-sex couples have been able to marry, an important step towards equality Howell Jones very much supported.
The recent decision means that heterosexual couples may now choose to opt for a Civil Partnership if they feel uncomfortable with the associations of marriage and its patriarchal roots and understand that their position as mere cohabitees is precarious without a change in the law.
There are practical differences in the paperwork, and what is required to become married/enter into a civil partnership and how it ends. One crucial difference is that whilst marriages are recognised almost universally around the world, some counties may not recognise a civil partnership.
If you would like advice about entering into a marriage, or Civil Partnership, please feel free to contact our Family Team at Howell Jones.