A civil partnership is a legal relationship between two individuals that gives them legal recognition and rights similar to marriage. It’s a relatively new legal relationship introduced by the Civil Partnership Act 2004. The law was expanded in 2019 to include opposite-sex couples.
It’s mainly designed to offer same-sex couples an opportunity to formalise their relationship and gain legal protections and benefits.
At Tracey Miller Family Law, our highly knowledgeable Civil Partnership divorce lawyers understand the challenges of the separation process.
Our team of top family law solicitors in Liverpool will provide unwavering support during these difficult times, collaborating with you to identify the most suitable resolution in the easiest possible ways.
You can speak to one of our Civil Partnership and Family Law experts on 0151 515 3036.
What Is a Civil Partnership?
In a civil partnership, the couple usually enters into a legally binding agreement through a ceremony or registration process. In this agreement, they are granted legal recognition as a couple, and this allows them various rights and responsibilities, including:
- Property Rights
- Tax Benefits
- Inheritance Rights
- Next of Kin Status for Medical Decisions
- Full Life Insurance Recognition
- Responsible Maintenance for one partner and their children
The Civil Partnership Act
The Civil Partnership Act is an Act of the UK Parliament that was introduced in 2004 and came into force on December 5th, 2005.
Civil Partnerships were introduced in England and Wales to allow same-sex couples to enter a legally recognised relationship, offering similar rights and responsibilities to marriage.
The key provisions of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 include:
- Eligibility – Same-sex couples must be 16 years old or over and not already in a civil partnership or marriage
- Registration – Couples must give notice of their intention to register their civil partnership and then complete the registration process in the presence of a registrar and witnesses
- Legal Recognition – Civil partnerships established under the Act are legally recognised and grant couples the same legal rights, protections and responsibilities as marriage in areas such as property, tax, inheritance, pensions, and immigration.
- Dissolution – The Act provides a process for dissolving civil partnerships through a legal procedure similar to divorce
It’s important to note that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 has now been superseded in the United Kingdom. As of 2014, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed, legalising same-sex marriage and allowing same-sex couples to choose between civil partnerships and marriage.
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What Is a Civil Partnership Vs Marriage?
The difference between a civil partnership and a marriage union isn’t always immediately apparent.
A civil partnership is a legal union between two people, showing that the partnership has the same responsibilities as in marriage.
The difference is that a civil partnership is entered into by signing a civil partnership document, while a marriage is formed by the exchanging of vows and then the signing of a marriage certificate. Also a marriage ceremony can be a religious or civil ceremony, whereas a civil partnership is entirely a civil ceremony.
Do Civil Partners Have The Same Rights As Married Couples?
There are many similarities between marriage and civil partnership. They have many of the same rights, such as:
- The same property rights
- Pension benefits
- The ability to obtain parental responsibility for a partner’s child
- Same rights of next of kin in hospitals
- Exempt from inheritance tax
What Rights Does a Civil Partner Have?
There are numerous other advantages of entering a civil partnership, and they include:
- Marriage Allowance – Upon entering into a civil partnership, one becomes eligible for a marriage allowance, which can be claimed if either partner's date of birth falls after the 6th of April 1935, if one partner pays taxes at a rate not exceeding the UK introductory rate, and if one partner has not utilised their entire personal allowance.
- The Married Couple’s Allowance – Despite its name, this allowance is intended explicitly for civil partners and can only be claimed if one civil partner was born before the 6th of April 1935. This allowance grants a 10% reduction against the claimant's tax bill. As of 2021, the maximum allowance stands at £8,915, progressively reducing to £3,450 based on the individual's income.
- Transfer of the Blind Person’s Allowance – This entitlement is accessible for civil partners or married couples who are registered blind or have a severe visual impairment that prevents them from engaging in any visually demanding work. The allowance is an additional amount added to the personal allowance, augmenting your income before income tax deductions.
- Transfer of Assets With No Capital Gains or Inheritance Tax – When in a civil partnership, individuals can transfer assets to their civil partner without incurring capital gains tax or inheritance tax obligations.
The Downside of a Civil Partnership is that:
- If one partner dies, the living partner only inherits the properties if it’s left in their name.
- They do not have the same legal rights as married couples, and civil partnerships are not allowed in some countries.
- In the case of death, the property is not automatically transferred from one partner to another.
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What are the benefits of a Civil Partnership?
- Legal Recognition – Civil partnerships are acknowledged and held in high regard by jurisdictions with similar laws or legal arrangements. For instance, a civil partnership officially registered in one country may be acknowledged in another country with laws governing civil partnerships.
- Legal Rights and Responsibilities – Civil partnership provides legal rights and responsibilities like those of marriage, such as property rights, tax benefits, inheritance rights, and next-of-kin status.
- Formality – Civil partnerships require a formal registration process, typically involving paperwork, a ceremony, or both, depending on the jurisdiction.
- Legal Recognition Outside Jurisdiction – Other jurisdictions with similar laws or legal arrangements recognise and respect civil partnerships. For example, a civil partnership registered in one country may be identified in another country with civil partnership laws.
Does A Civil Partnership Affect the State Pension?
In a civil partnership, you can claim a state retirement pension based on your partner’s national insurance contributions. If the relationship is terminated through the court, you are entitled to a share of your ex-partner’s pension.
Ending a Civil Partnership Relationship & Parental Responsibility
In the event of the end of a civil partnership, this can be achieved without involving the court, although the court can assert jurisdiction over parental responsibility matters.
Upon dissolution of a same-sex civil partnership, both parties shall maintain parental responsibilities towards the child. In cases where different opinions arise regarding custodial obligations, mediation services can be pursued.
Can Civil Partners Live Separately?
Yes, civil partners can reside separately if they choose to do so. Like marriage, a couple is not obligated to cohabit as part of a civil partnership.
The decision to live separately from each other may be based on various factors such as work obligations, personal circumstances or relationship dynamics.
For advice on Civil Partners please get in touch for advice on 0151 515 3036.
How To File for A Civil Partnership Dissolution
Dissolution refers to the legal process of ending a civil partnership. There are specific procedures and requirements to end a civil partnership, which can vary depending on the jurisdiction.
A general dissolution may occur as follows:
1. Eligibility – The couple must have entered into a civil partnership for a specific duration, as typically determined by the jurisdiction's legal framework.
2. Filing a Dissolution Application – One or both partners initiate the dissolution process by submitting a dissolution application to the respective court.
3. Ground for Dissolution – That the civil partnership is irretrievably broken down.
4. Legal Process – Following the submission of the dissolution application, and acknowledgement of service by your partner, or proof that they have been served, you must wait 20 weeks after the application to apply for the conditional order and following that a further 6 weeks for the final order. If your civil partner applied for a conditional order you would have to wait 3 months and 6 weeks after the date of the conditional order.
5. Financial and Custody Matters – During the dissolution process, partners may be required to attend to financial affairs, encompassing the allocation of assets, debts, and spousal maintenance or support. When the partners have children, matters about child custody, visitation, and child support may also need to be addressed.
6. Final Dissolution Order – A final dissolution order shall be issued upon satisfactory assessment of the grounds and resolution of the associated matters by the court or relevant authority. This legally terminates the civil partnership, thereby ceasing the partners' status as civil partners.
The laws above and procedures have been established to provide a comprehensive overview of the precise course of action and prerequisites needed for dissolving civil partnerships within that jurisdiction.
It is highly recommended to seek legal counsel or guidance from a family lawyer to navigate the dissolution process effectively.
We Are Experts in Resolving Civil Partnership Separation Matters
We have expertise in resolving various financial or legal issues and will work with you sympathetically to help provide the best arrangements for you and your family after the separation.
At Tracey Miller Family Law, we are all members of Resolution – an organisation with over 5000 lawyers who believe that all matters should be dealt with in a constructive, non-confrontational way. All Resolution members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a sensitive, cost-effective, and productive approach to family law, which will likely result in an agreement.
Speak To a Family Law Solicitor Today
Call today on 0151 515 3036 for a free and confidential no-obligation chat about your circumstances regarding family, financial or child responsibility matters proceeding the end of a civil partnership.
Alternatively, you can request a callback with us via our online contact form.
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