Civil Partnerships or 'same sex marriages', were introduced to England & Wales on the 5th December 2005.
The registration of a civil partnership means the civil partners can acquire rights which were not previously available to them. These include:-
- If a civil partner dies without leaving a Will the surviving civil partner has some entitlement to share in the estate. The extent of this share will be dependent on a number of factors and it is therefore advisable to make a Will upon the registration of a civil partnership to ensure each of you is protected upon the death of the other.
- Civil partners are likely to be assessed as a couple for obtaining state benefits.
- Civil partners are generally treated in the same way as married couples for tax purposes.
- Civil partners are entitled to similar pension benefits payable to a spouse upon the death of a pension holder
- A civil partner is legally entitled to live in the family home, even if the other partner owns the home outright. This entitlement can be registered at the Land Registry.
As well as financial rights obtained upon the registration of a civil partnership certain rights are obtained in respect of children. A civil partner will acquire the same rights as a step-parent to his or her partner's children. A civil partner may apply to the Court for Orders under the Children Act 1989 and may obtain parental responsibility either by way of a Parental Responsibility Agreement or Court Order. In addition the Adoption and Children Act 2002 enables civil partners and same-sex couples to jointly adopt a child.
If the relationship between civil partners breaks down, then after the partnership has been registered for at least twelve months, one civil partner may apply for it to be permanently ended. This is known as a dissolution of the partnership. To complete such an application the civil partner must show the partnership has irretrievably broken down by proving one of the following has occurred:
- The other partner's behaviour is intolerable;
- Two years' separation with both partners consent to the dissolution;
- Five years' separation;
- The other partner's desertion for at least two years
Financial Claims on Dissolution of Civil Partnership
Should the civil partnership permanently end the Court is able to make decisions regarding financial claims between you. It is possible to enter into a Pre-Registration Agreement which is similar to a Pre-Nuptial Agreement for married couples. If there is no such agreement in place then upon the dissolution of the partnership the decisions to be made about the distribution of the financial assets will be governed by Civil Partnership Act 2004 and in particular s.21 under Schedule 5 of this Act.
The precise decisions to be made when considering how to distribute the finances between you will be dependent on the detail of your partnership and financial circumstances.
It is always hoped that the financial claims can be resolved by way of agreement and civil partners are encouraged to discuss matters with the support of independent legal advice through mediation, collaborative law or informal meetings. Alternatively your solicitors can negotiate on your behalf. If agreement cannot be reached this way then you can make an application to the Court for financial orders.
We have a specialist department who are able to advise and assist you upon separation and to resolve the financial claims between you whether this is by way of agreement, alongside mediation or through Court proceedings.