A civil partnership allows same-sex couples to enter into an official, legal bond, much as heterosexual couples do with marriage. In this article we take a closer look at civil partnerships, helping you understand how can enter such a partnership, how to go about registering your partnership, and what the legal implications of such a union might be.

How to get a civil partnership

To enter in to a civil partnership in England and Wales, both partners must:-

  • Be 16 years old or more;
  • Not already be married or in a civil partnership;
  • Not be related to each other.

As long as you meet these three conditions, there should be nothing stopping you from proceeding with your civil partnership.

The first thing to do is give a notice of intention to your local registration office. Even if the ceremony is being held in another part of the country, you must attend the registration office in your area of residence, where you must have lived for at least seven days. The notice is a written declaration from both partners in which each will confirm firstly, that he or she has lived in the area for at least seven days, and secondly that he or she sees no legal reason why the partnership should not be granted. The notice must then be handed into the registration by both partners, in person.

It is then necessary to wait for a period of 15 days, during which time the registration authority will publicise your notice of intention. This provides an opportunity for any objections to be made. If there no opposition has been lodged at the end of this time, the registration office will issue a document known as a civil partnership schedule.

Lastly, you must sign your civil partnership schedule in the presence of a civil partnership registrar and two witnesses. Once you have both signed the document, your partnership becomes official. You may wish to have a ceremony in honour of this moment; however, unlike heterosexual marriages it may not have a religious theme.

Civil partnerships and legal rights

Once you have each signed the civil partnership schedule, your partnership is deemed legally valid in the eyes of the law. You and your partner will automatically enjoy certain legal rights and obligations, just as those within a heterosexual marriage do. These include:-

  • Tax, including inheritance tax;
  • Employment, income-related and pension benefits;
  • Ability to apply for parental responsibility of your partner’s children;
  • Protection from domestic violence;
  • Immigration and nationality benefits;
  • Duty to provide for your partner and your children;
  • Acknowledgement in intestacy rules.

Legal advice and civil partnerships

If you would like any further advice upon your rights and obligations as a civil partner, contact our family department today. We will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today for a free initial enquiry. Call 0800 142 2901 or fill in an online enquiry.

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