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The Difference Between Marriage and Civil Partnerships

Civil partnerships were originally introduced in 2004 as a way for same-sex couples to join in a union like marriage.
Originally only same-sex couples were able to enter into a civil partnership and heterosexual couples could get married. This changed in 2014 when the legislation came into force which allowed same-sex couples to get married rather than getting a civil partnership.

However, heterosexual couples were not able to get a civil partnership until 2018, when the supreme court ruled that civil partnerships should be available for both heterosexual and same-sex couples after petitioning.

This means that all couples can now have a choice between marriage or a civil partnership.

So, what are the differences between marriage and a civil partnership?

There aren’t many differences between marriage and a civil partnership. They are both a legal union between two adults. With both a marriage and a civil partnership couples have the same rights to property, pension benefits and are able to obtain parental responsibility for a partner’s child. They also have the same rights to be next of kin for their spouse in hospitals as well as also being exempt from inheritance tax.

In terms of general legalities, there are more similarities than there are differences between marriage and civil partnership. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any legal differences between marriage and civil partnership.

These differences include;

  • Civil partners cannot refer to themselves as ‘married’ for legal purposes.
  • A civil partnership certificate includes the names of both parents of the couple. Marriage certificates only include the names of the fathers of each person getting married.
  • With marriage, the ceremony has to be conducted in a registered destination such as a church, town hall, specialist venue, by someone who is ordained to marry people, like a priest or registrar. The bride and groom are required to exchange rings and vows during the ceremony. With a Civil Partnership Ceremony, exchanging rings and vows is not required, there doesn’t even need to be a ceremony. The union is officially after both parties have signed the civil partnership document.
  • In some countries, a civil partnership isn’t recognised. This can cause issues whilst travelling or if you are emigrating as your legal status as civil partners would not be legally binding in that country.
  • Separating also has some differences, in a civil partnership, adultery is not a valid reason to obtain a divorce, whereas, in marriage, adultery is a valid reason to petition for a divorce. Also, as a married couple, you can separate informally without going to court, however, in a civil partnership, you will need officials to dissolve the partnership which requires going to court.

Choosing marriage or a civil partnership is an extremely personal choice. If you are deciding between the two, it is important to take the time to find out which option would be best for you and your partner. At Hill and Company Solicitors, we can guide you through the different options and let you know about the legal requirements and implications for both.
If you would like to discuss your options with a member of our expert legal team, get in touch today!
Our friendly team are here to help you make the right decision for you and your partner. Contact us here!

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Hill and Company Solicitors

4-8 Market Street, Altrincham

Cheshire WA14 1QD


0161 928 3201*


Hill and Company Solicitors in Altrincham Cheshire, offer a wide range of legal services. Our departments are headed by experienced senior solicitors who are specialists in their areas of Law.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for further details of our services or if you have a legal matter we can help you with.
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