Differences between Same Sex Marriage and Civil Partnership
There are advantages to opting for a same-sex marriage over a civil partnership, some of which include:
In the unfortunate event of a same-sex spouse's passing, their partner is entitled to a percentage of their pension that reflects the total number of years that the deceased paid into it. In contrast, with a civil partnership, the surviving spouse would only receive a portion of the pension based on contributions made since 2004 (for a private sector pension) or 1988 (for a public sector pension).
As more and more countries continue to accept same-sex marriages, having your marital status recognised as such can be incredibly beneficial. Fewer countries, on the other hand, recognise the legal status of a civil partnership.
Before the enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Act of 2013, if a married heterosexual person underwent a sex change, their marriage would no longer be recognised after receiving their Gender Recognition Certificate. Consequently, people were sometimes forced to divorce and then enter into a civil partnership with their ex-spouse. The new law, however, allows individuals in this situation to remain married and have their marriage remain valid.
Converting a Civil-Partnership to a Marriage
The Married (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 also permits civil partners to convert their partnership into a marriage if they so desire. This provision enables couples to formalise their union and enjoy the same legal rights and privileges as same-sex spouses.
How to convert a civil partnership into a marriage?
Since March 2014 same-sex couples have been able to marry in the UK. The process of converting a civil partnership into a marriage is relatively simple.
In England and Wales, you make an appointment with your local registrar to convert your civil partnership to a marriage. At the registry office you, your partner and the registrar will sign the declaration. The conversion will be registered, and a marriage certificate issued.
Process of dissolving a civil partnership
The process of dissolution is fundamentally the same as in a divorce. If the couple wishes to separate within the first year, they can apply for a separation order.
You cannot dissolve a civil partnership within the first year. You have to wait 12 months until you can apply for a dissolution.
Formerly, couples had to provide a reason for the split but since 6th April 2022 neither you nor your partner needs to give a reason, which is sometimes referred to as ‘no fault.’
What is a pre-civil partnership agreement?
A pre-civil partnership agreement is a written contract between two people who are about to enter into a civil partnership. A post-civil partnership agreement is made after the couple has entered the civil partnership. Both are legal documents that set out in writing the couple’s intentions for their financial affairs and the division of assets if they decide to dissolve the partnership.
Why do I need a pre-civil partnership agreement?
Many people do not realise the extent of their legal obligations to each other until the civil partnership comes to an end. Getting legal advice early on will help avoid any confusion or acrimony over the division of assets.
Having a legal agreement setting out your intentions can help secure valuable items, family heirlooms, major assets, properties and business interests.
Can a pre-civil partnership agreement be enforced?
In England and Wales, a pre- or post-civil partnership is not legally binding. Ultimately, the court has the discretion to determine financial and family matters in the event of dissolution.
However, the pre-civil partnership agreement will be considered by the court and its terms can be implemented and upheld in whole or in part under certain criteria.
These include evidence that the agreement was made freely and voluntarily without pressure and both parties appreciated its implications and received independent legal advice during the process.
The court must be satisfied that both parties intended the agreement to be effective and binding on them, and to govern the financial implications of dissolution. The court must also decide whether it would be fair to hold either to the agreement at the time of dissolution.
When should you do the pre-civil partnership agreement?
It’s best to obtain your pre-civil partnership agreement as early on as possible so you can take your time preparing it.
If the court is asked to consider a pre-civil partnership agreement during dissolution, it will look at whether both parties were able to make the agreement without undue pressure or stress.
To give both of you plenty of time to consider the details included in the agreement, aim to have it prepared and settled three months before your civil partnership.
However, a post-civil partnership agreement can be made at any time after registering your civil partnership. It is also advisable to continue to update your agreement from time to time to make sure it is still fair and relevant.
At Rowlinsons, our family law team can assist at any time with preparing and drafting your pre- or post-civil partnership agreement.
Why choose Rowlinsons for your pre-civil partnership agreement?
Rowlinsons has many years of experience helping same-sex couples create tailored pre- or post-civil partnership agreements that suit their requirements.
We’ll listen to your individual circumstances and discuss your options. You’ll get clear, high-quality legal advice to help you to identify what specific information to include to secure your financial future and protect your family in the event of dissolution.
We are committed to offering reliable and responsible legal services and we remain steadfastly focused on meeting their needs and ensuring their satisfaction.