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
- They are only open to same sex couples (and therefore not available to unmarried heterosexual couples who choose not to marry).
- 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.
- Notice of an intention to register a Civil Partnership must be given to the Register Office local to the home address of each partner.
- Parties can register their in Civil Partnership only after 15 clear days from the date of giving notice.
- 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.
- 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.
- There are special procedures to be followed if one party to the proposed Civil Partnership is subject to immigration control.
- Civil Partnerships give to the couple the same rights as married couples including in relation to tax, Social Security, inheritance and employment benefits.
- A Civil Partnership cannot be brought to an end until 1 year has passed since the date of registration.
- The grounds for bringing a Civil Partnership to an end are the same as for divorce except that adultery does not apply.