Same Sex Marriage - Civil Partnerships

Same-sex couples face many problems in their day-to-day lives because there is no legal recognition for their relationship. In many areas, each partner in the couple is treated as a separate individual; they are denied rights and responsibilities that could help them to organise their lives together. Opposite-sex couples have the choice to marry and have their relationship recognised in law. Same-sex couples have no such choice. The Government’s consultation paper proposes setting up a civil partnership registration scheme through which same-sex couples could gain legal recognition for their relationships.

What would a civil partnership registration scheme look like?

The Government proposes to create a scheme under which same-sex couples in England and Wales would be able to register their partnership. The scheme would be for adult same-sex couples who are not in an existing registered partnership or marriage and are not closely related. Couples who registered would have a new legal status as "registered civil partners", and would acquire a package of rights and responsibilities.

How would people register?
Couples would give notice of intention to register at a registry office, and could sign the civil partnerships register 15 days later.

How would people dissolve a partnership?
The Government intends registered civil partnerships to be long-term, stable relationships, so there would be a formal, court-based process for dissolution. The partner applying for the partnership to be dissolved would have to show that it had broken down irretrievably.

What would the legal consequences of registering a civil partnership be?

Couples would acquire a package of rights and responsibilities that would reflect the commitment they had made and help them organise their lives together. These legal consequences would follow from registration.
Rights and responsibilities during the relationship might include:

joint treatment for income-related benefits,
joint state pension benefits,
ability to gain parental responsibility for each other’s children,
recognition for immigration purposes,
exemption from testifying against each other in court;


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Rights and responsibilities on dissolution might include:

fair arrangements for property division,
residence arrangements,
appropriate contact with children; and

Rights and responsibilities following the death of one partner might include:

right to register the death of a partner,
right to claim a survivor pension,
eligibility for bereavement benefits,
compensation for fatal accidents or criminal injuries,
recognition under inheritance and intestacy rules,
tenancy succession rights.

You can obtain a copy of the full consultation document, quoting URN 03/1010, from:

DTI Publications Orderline
T• 0870 1502 500
F• 0870 1502 333

Copyright - Women & Equality Unit part of the DTI

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