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We have just had breaking news from the Conservative Party conference that the government has agreed to extend Civil Partnerships to heterosexual couples.

What prompted this change?

In June a case came before the Supreme Court in which the litigants, who were a heterosexual couple, argued that it was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights that they could not enter into a Civil Partnership, which is only available to same sex couples.

The Supreme Court supported this view and now the government has pledged to change the situation.

Civil partnership

What does this mean?

Heterosexual couples will now be able to choose whether they want to get married, enter into a Civil Partnership or cohabit.

A warning needs to be given to those entering into a Civil Partnership thinking that it will be different to marriage, especially if the Civil Partnership breaks down. Financial claims, whether on the dissolution of a Civil Partnership or a divorce are exactly the same, so some may ask – what is the point?

Why do people want a Civil Partnership?

Some people are fundamentally opposed to marriage as an institution that they claim is evidence of a patriarchal society. It may be viewed as inconsistent with modern society. Others may be opposed on religious or ethical grounds. What is clear is that those who are in favour of this change feel very strongly that they have been discriminated against by the law in the past. They want to have the same financial rights as those that are married, which simple cohabitation does not give them, but they don’t believe in the concept of marriage.

My view as a family solicitor

There is no doubt that I am sticking my neck way out, when I say that I really do think that there are so many more pressing areas that require reform than this one, and I just wonder how many people are actually going to be impacted by this change. I stand to be corrected, and I shall be watching the numbers with interest.

If you would like to find out more about the issues raised in this article or need advice concerning family and divorce matters more widely, please contact Louise or another member of our expert team on family@bishopandsewell.co.uk or call 020 7631 4141.



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