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Welcome for civil partnership news

Civil partnerships are to be extended to heterosexual couples, in a move welcomed by a regional expert.

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that, once in place, the law will give heterosexual couples in England and Wales the same options as same-sex couples – to live together, marry, or enter into a civil partnership.

Previously, civil partnerships were only open to same-sex couples, but this was found to be in breach of European law earlier in the year.

Announcing the move, Mrs May said: “This change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalise their relationship but don’t necessarily want to get married.”

Figures show that there are more than three million unmarried couples in the UK who do not have the same legal protection as married couples. Many make the mistake of believing that if they have lived together for a long time, they do have these rights.

Lisa McLachlan, chartered legal executive in the Family & Divorce team at regional law firm Napthens, said this was not the case.

She explained: “Without being married or entering into a civil partnership, couples are losing out on certain rights such as tax reliefs, inheritance and pension benefits.

“It is extremely encouraging to see the Government has committed to the equalisation of the law in this way. Civil partnerships will bring the protection for those heterosexual couples who enter into them in line with the protection currently only available to married couples.

“This is a major step forward in the move to align the law with modern society, but it is important to remember that those who do not wish to enter into a civil partnership will not have any legal protection – the same as under current rules.

“People will still need to take positive steps in order to get the protection the law offers.”