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How Marriage Differs From A Civil Partnership

Posted on 16th September 2013 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors

Celebrated by many same sex couples throughout the UK, a civil partnership offers an excellent alternative to marriage with the same symbolism and significance of that of a marriage ceremony. Since its implementation in 2004, there have been over 18,000 civil partnerships formed. However, this does beg the question – how does a civil partnership differ from marriage?

The Civil Partnership Act

Under the civil partnership act, same-sex couples were given the right to form a partnership in the same way that heterosexual couples could through marriage. A civil partnership gives many of the same rights and responsibilities as marriage legally speaking, which includes aspects such as: property rights, inheritance tax, pension benefits, parental rights and many more. In the most clinical sense a civil partnership gives legal recognition, however emotionally it is just as symbolic as marriage between heterosexual couples.

In both cases, individuals involved must be 16 or over. However, if they are under 18, parental or guardian permission must be obtained. For both marriages and civil partnerships, notice must be given to the register office of at least 16 days, as well as a publically displayed notice in the register office of 15 days. Following this notice period registration is given and is valid for a full year, during which time the couple can marry.

Ceremonial Differences

The partnership becomes legal after the registration certificate is signed by both partners. However, unlike a marriage this does not have to take place during a public ceremony which requires witnesses – therefore making it a more private procedure. And unlike marriage no specific words need to be exchanged prior to the signing of the certificate. As for the ceremony itself, religious readings and symbols are banned from civil partnership ceremonies.

In conclusion, from a legal point of view there are very few differences between marriage and civil partnerships as it grants many of the same legal rights and responsibilities, and to the couples themselves it can be as symbolic as any other kind of ceremony.