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What is a civil partnership?

Couples who form a civil partnership have comparable rights to married couples.

Who is eligible

In order to form a civil partnership in the UK, you must:

  • not already be in a civil partnership or marriage
  • be aged 16 years or over
  • not be within the prohibited degrees of relationship (see below).

In England and Wales and Northern Ireland, individuals who are aged 16 and 17 will have to obtain the written consent of their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) before they can form a civil partnership. In Scotland individuals aged 16 or over will be able to register their partnership without the need for parental consent.

The prohibited degrees of relationship can be found in Schedule 1 to the Civil Partnership Act for England and Wales, Schedule 10 for Scotland and Schedule 12 for Northern Ireland. These schedules list the people who, due to the closeness of their relationship with each other, are prohibited from forming a civil partnership with each other or, in certain cases, who are prohibited from forming a civil partnership with each other unless certain conditions are met.

Rights and responsibilities

Couples entering into civil partnership will have a legal status - that of 'civil partner'. In a  wide range of legal matters they will be treated in the same way as couples who marry.

Rights and responsibilities include:

  • a duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner and any children of the family
  • the ability to obtain or apply for parental responsibility for your civil partner's child
  • equitable treatment for the purposes of assessment for child support, life assurance, tax (including inheritance tax), employment and pension benefits, inheritance of a tenancy agreement
  • recognition under intestacy rules
  • access to fatal accidents compensation
  • protection from domestic violence
  • recognition for immigration and nationality purposes.

The ceremony

Civil partnership registration is an entirely secular process, and the Civil Partnership Act prevents any religious service from taking place during the statutory steps leading to the formation of a civil partnership.

You do not need, by law, to have a ceremony in addition to the registration procedure but you are more than welcome to do so. It can be a lovely way of marking your relationship and commitment to each other.

We would be more than happy to arrange a ceremony for you. Please contact us for more information on this and how to book a ceremony.