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Civil Partnerships versus Marriage: Where does the new law leave mixed-sex couples?


Family, Legal Updates

The law relating to the formation of Marriages and Civil Partnerships changed at the end of 2019 with the introduction of The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Act 2019. Following the successful campaign by opposite sex couple Steinfeld & Keidan, the law has been changed allowing heterosexual couples to enter into Civil Partnerships.


Previously, Civil Partnerships were only available to same sex couples. Steinfeld & Keidan challenged the law on the basis that it was discriminatory under article 8 ECHR (right to family life) when considered alongside article 14 (prohibition of discrimination). Their case went to the Supreme Court and in June 2018, the judges unanimously agreed that the ban was in fact discriminatory.

Another option

As reported by the BBC, the government has estimated that about 84,000 mixed-sex couples could form Civil Partnerships in 2020, giving them greater rights and protections within their relationships, without having to get married.

Notable differences

Whilst Civil Partnerships essentially award the same rights to couples as Marriage, there are a few notable differences:

  • Civil Partnerships cannot be formed in a religious ceremony on a religious premise
  • Marriage is formed by vows; Civil Partnerships are formed by signing of the Civil Partnership document
  • Only the father’s name features on the Marriage certificate whereas both parent’s names appear on the Civil Partnership document
  • Marriages are ended by divorce and Civil Partnerships by dissolution; although the procedure is fundamentally the same
  • A Civil Partnership is not voidable on the basis of non-consummation (nor does it make a same sex marriage voidable)
  • Adultery is only a ground for dissolution (or divorce) if it is committed with a person of the opposite sex

If you are considering entering into a Marriage or Civil Partnership, there are many useful resources offering more information including:



Pre-Nuptial Agreements/ Pre-Registration Agreements

Partner and Head of Family Law, Amy Walpole, is able to advise couples on measures they can take before entering into a Marriage or Civil Partnership to set out how the couple would like their financial affairs to be resolved should they separate or divorce in the future.

If you are getting married or entering into a Civil Partnership, you should consider a Pre-Nuptial Agreement or Pre-Registration Agreement. If you simply wish to live together, you should consider a Living Together Agreement. If you would like advice or to arrange an initial fixed fee family law consultation, please call Amy Walpole on 01603 660 811 or email amywalpole@hatchbrenner.co.uk

Hatch Brenner Norwich Heterosexual Civil Partnerships 2020

Heterosexual Civil Partnerships 2020

If you would like further information about any service, call us on 01603 214220