The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is a radical piece of social legislation and is an important development in family law in the U.K. The Act came into operation on 5th December 2005 enabling same sex couples to register their relationships in the same way as heterosexual couples. This legislation enables same sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship and couples who form a civil partnership have a new legal status of “civil partner”.
Civil partners are now treated on an equal footing as married heterosexual partners in a wide range of legal matters including:
- Income and Inheritance Tax
- Employment benefits
- The vast majority of state and occupational pension benefits
- Income related benefits, tax credits and child support
- Duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner and any children.
- Ability to apply for Parental Responsibility for your civil partner’s child.
- Inheritance of a tenancy agreement
- Recognition under the Rules of Intestacy where the deceased has no Will.
In order to form a civil partnership notice of intention to form a civil partnership must be given and wide publicity was given in the media at the end of last year to a number of celebrity civil partnerships. A civil partnership can be dissolved using a similar procedure to divorce and in the same way that you must have been married for at least 12 months before you can get divorced, you must have been in a civil partnership for at least 12 months before it can be dissolved. The ground for dissolving a civil partnership is the same as for marriage namely that it has “irretrievably broken down”.