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Converting a Civil Partnership to marriage

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 made the marriage of same sex couples lawful in England and Wales, with the first same sex marriages taking place on Saturday 29 March 2014.

Formal Parliamentary approval is awaited to the secondary legislation, but it is envisaged that from 10 December 2014 same sex couples who entered into a civil partnership before the Act came in, will be able to convert their civil partnership into a marriage if they wish to do so.

The proposed procedure to convert a civil partnership to a marriage will be that both parties attend a Register Office and sign a declaration confirming their wish to convert the civil partnership into a marriage. This will then be entered into the Register and a Marriage Certificate will be issued.

This will leave a distinction between the position of same sex and heterosexual couples. A same sex couple can now choose between a civil partnership or marriage but the same choice is not afforded to heterosexual couples. In Holland the choice of marriage or civil partnership is available to all couples and a noteworthy percentage of heterosexual couples there opt for civil partnership as opposed to marriage.

It remains to be seen whether this differential will be addressed, although at present there does not appear to be a demand for civil partnerships to be made available to heterosexual couples.