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Changing law makes civil partnerships open to all

The Prime Minister, Theresa May has announced that all couples, whether mixed-sex or same-sex will be able to choose between civil partnership and marriage.

The news follows the break though case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan who fought for 4 years to be allowed to have a civil partnership. The couple’s online petition was signed by over 130,000 supporters, and in June, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in their favour.

Civil partnerships were created in 2004 to give same-sex couples similar legal and financial protection to marriage.  In 2013 marriage between same-sex couples was legalised giving them the choice between civil partnership and marriage.

Although this was a successful move forward for same-sex couples, the choice has not been afforded to mixed-sex couples and has instigated the need for equality which has recently been challenged.

There are many reasons why a couple may choose a civil partnership over a marriage.  The BBC reported that there are over 3.3 million cohabiting couples in the UK, many of whom wrongly think that they have similar rights to those of married couples or civil partners.  This is often referred to as common law marriage.

Unfortunately this is not the case and cohabitees sadly find on separation or death of a partner that they have little rights in terms of property, pensions or inheritance.

By giving all couples the option of entering into a civil partnership, those who do not wish to be married will still be able to achieve the same protection given to married couples.

For some, the simple right of being someone’s next of kin is the advantage of entering into a civil partnership.  Others appreciate the chance to formalise their relationship without the involvement of religion or old traditions if that is not their belief.

Theresa May said: “This change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalise their relationship but don’t necessarily want to get married.”

The government recognise that there are “a number of legal issues to consider, across pension and family law”.  It is now time for ministers to consult on the technical details.

The equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt has promised that the change in the law would happen “as swiftly as possible”.

Author: Stacey Powney


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