The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (which came into force in December 2005) enables lesbians and gay men to enter into a civil partnership (a registered partnership with rights akin to those available to heterosexual couples who choose to marry).

10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS

  1. They are only open to same sex couples (and therefore not available to unmarried heterosexual couples who choose not to marry).
  2. Each party must be over 16 (and have the consent of parents or guardians if under 18), unrelated and not already married or in an existing Civil Partnership.
  3. Notice of an intention to register a Civil Partnership must be given to the Register Office local to the home address of each partner.
  4. Parties can register their in Civil Partnership only after 15 clear days from the date of giving notice.
  5. In order to register the Civil Partnership the parties must both sign a Civil Partnership Schedule/Register in front of the Registrar and 2 witnesses.
  6. Civil Partnership ceremonies are not limited to Register Offices although no religious service is permitted whilst the Registrar is officiating at the formation of the Civil Partnership.
  7. There are special procedures to be followed if one party to the proposed Civil Partnership is subject to immigration control.
  8. Civil Partnerships give to the couple the same rights as married couples including in relation to tax, Social Security, inheritance and employment benefits.
  9. A Civil Partnership cannot be brought to an end until 1 year has passed since the date of registration.
  10. The grounds for bringing a Civil Partnership to an end are the same as for divorce except that adultery does not apply.