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Posted 14 November 2019
by Aimee Aspinall

Marriage or Civil Partnership?

On New Years Eve 2019, the first couples will be entering mixed-sex civil partnerships. This follows approval of new legislation last week, with new regulations coming into force on 2nd December 2019.

But what does this mean? How does a Civil Partnership differ from a Marriage?

The nature of a couples’ relationship is unlikely to be differ whether they choose to marry or enter into a civil partnership. For many, the choice will reflect their view regarding the history and patriarchal associations of traditional marriage which has made it an unattractive option.

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships since 2004, and more recently marriages since 2014. Campaigners for mixed-sex civil partnerships have been arguing for equality of choice across the board.

Previously, for couples not wishing to marry, the only option available to them was to cohabit. Concerningly, the notion of a ‘common-law marriage’ remains widespread despite this being a myth. Couples choosing to live together without a ‘legally recognised’ relationship do not have the same rights as their married or civil partner counterparts. This includes claims in respect of pensions on the death of a spouse/partner, inheriting property owned by a spouse/partner as well as rights on separation including for pension sharing orders, maintenance and securing a share of property owned in the sole name of a spouse/partner.

Opening civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples will hopefully encourage more couples to consider how best to protect themselves, their partners and any children they may have going forward.

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About the author

Aimee Aspinall

Chartered Legal Executive

Chartered Legal Executive in the Exeter family team