Civil partnerships

A civil partnership is a legally-recognised relationship with many of the same tax, pensions and inheritance benefits as a marriage, but without the religious connotations.

Mixed-sex and same-sex couples that want their relationship to be legally recognised now have the choice to either marry or register a civil partnership.

Although a civil partnership is legally not the same as marriage, civil partners are in an identical position to married couples when it comes to issues such as:

  • Money
  • Property
  • Children
  • Tax
  • Death and inheritance

Some couples choose civil partnerships over traditional marriages as they are not religious. 

What do you need to know about civil partnership?

  • Is a civil partnership ceremony the same as a wedding? A civil partnership is formed by signing a document so there is no requirement for a ceremony to take place or to exchange vows, but you can do so if you wish
  • What happens if a civil partnership comes to an end? Do you get a divorce? Civil partnerships can be brought to an end in very much the same way as a marriage. One of the key differences is that the process is called “dissolution” and not “divorce” but the steps you need to take are almost exactly the same. Where a civil partnership is dissolved, you will be able to sort out the arrangements for your children and your finances in exactly the same way as divorcing couples.
  • Can civil partners have pre- and post-nups? Civil partners are able to enter into pre- and post-nuptial agreements just as some married couples do
  • Are civil partnerships agreed in England and Wales recognised across the world? Same-sex and opposite-sex civil partnerships formed in England and Wales are recognised in many countries but if you are going abroad to work or live, you should seek advice about what rights you might have under the law of that other country
  • Are civil partnership registered overseas legally binding in England and Wales? If you have registered a civil partnership overseas but are now living in England and Wales or are thinking about living in England and Wales, your foreign civil partnership will be recognised here provided you complied with all the legal requirements when entering into your civil partnership and you have met certain other conditions including:
    • Your civil partnership was registered in a country outside of the UK
    • You and your partner had capacity to enter into the partnership

It is important to take legal advice about the status of your civil partnership in this country as you may find the rights and responsibilities you have here are wider than those in the country you originally registered your civil partnership in.

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