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Opposite sex civil partnership law change welcomed

A family law expert is welcoming the news that civil partnerships could be extended to opposite sex couples.

A bill before parliament is proposing that opposite sex, cohabiting couples should be given the same chance to enter into civil partnerships that same sex couples have.

Currently, only same sex couples can enter into a civil partnership, and the UK courts have agreed the issue should be examined, with a judicial review into the legalities of the current rules set to take place next year.

Simon Gledhill, head of the Family team at Napthens solicitors, said: “Now that same sex couples can marry we have a strange situation where they have both marriage and civil partnership as alternatives whereas heterosexual couples only have marriage.

“The financial claims which can be brought by civil partners if their relationship breaks down are the same as for married couples so from a financial perspective there is no advantage in entering into a civil partnership as opposed to marriage. A person who does not wish to marry because of the financial implications is unlikely to enter into a civil partnership either.

“Some couples may not want to marry because they do not agree with the institution itself. They may not want to make the promises that a marriage ceremony involves or they may have been married before and not want to do so again. The availability of civil partnerships for these couples will give them an alternative.

“The main purpose of the proposed change is to address the anomaly that now exists. The one potentially big difference however is that if couples who are currently living together enter into a civil partnership their financial position in the event that their relationship ends will change considerably and they will be in an equivalent position to a married couple.

“The law as it stands in relation to the financial position of parties who are just living together without a legal contract is very unsatisfactory.”

Family and Divorce - head of Family and Divorce - Simon Gledhill