Civil Partnerships - What they Mean for You

The first Civil Partnerships were formed on 21 December 2005, after the Civil Partnerships Act 2005 came into effect on 5 December. The reason for the delay is that the law requires a minimum of 15 days’ notice of an intending civil partnership to be given before it can be undertaken. Same-sex marriages contracted abroad, however, have been recognised as valid from 5 December 2005. Whilst the legal formalities may differ from those of marriage, the practicalities make them almost identical, including the granting of the full range of paternity and child care rights enjoyed by married couples.

A civil partnership can be terminated only by death, legal dissolution or annulment and dissolution is allowed, as in marriage, only on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown. One difference between civil partnerships and marriage is that adultery is not a ground for irretrievable breakdown in the former, but is in the latter. On the breakdown of a civil partnership, the normal claims for financial relief – such as division of assets and maintenance payments – apply as in a marriage and it is virtually certain that the courts will take much the same approach towards such matters in dissolutions of civil partnerships as they do in the breakdowns of marriages.

Civil partners have the equivalent rights of a spouse on the death of their civil partner, so the same sort of thinking needs to be applied towards the planning wills and Inheritance Tax as should be done by married couples. A civil partnership, like a marriage, invalidates an earlier will.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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