The Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019 came into force in December meaning that civil partnerships are now available to all.
These new regulations were finally made on 5 November 2019. They came into force on 2nd December 2019 meaning those wishing to enter into a mixed-couple civil partnership can be registered on 31st December 2019, after giving the required 28 days notice.
Giving her approval, the Minister of State Baroness Williams explained that "there are over 3 million opposite-sex couples who cohabit but choose not to marry, these couples support around 1 million children yet they do not have the security or legal protection that married couples or same-sex civil partners enjoy". There are also generous tax benefits for those who are married which cohabiting couples cannot take advantage of regardless of the length of their relationship.
Civil partnerships were introduced in England and Wales in 2005 to provide a legally binding commitment for same-sex couples. In 2013 same-sex marriage was introduced and many same-sex couples who had entered a civil partnership could choose to convert their civil partnership to a marriage. However not all same-sex couples in a civil partnership took up the option of converting to marriage.
Despite this long-awaited development, the work to achieve full equality for same and opposite sex couples is not yet complete. Whilst same sex couples can convert their civil partnerships to marriage, this is not yet permitted for opposite sex couples, moreover opposite sex couples will be unable to convert their marriages to a civil partnership.
Modernising family law
The continuing evolution of relationships and family dynamics require prompt reactive changes to the law. Marriage is increasingly being viewed as archaic and out-dated and opposite-sex couples who are against marriage have no other formal alternative to show their commitment to each other, until now. It will be interesting to see whether opposite-sex civil partnerships will become more preferable to marriage and whether those who have been cohabiting will be choosing to commit themselves in this alternative way.
If you would like to know about the issues discussed in this article, please contact the Family Team at Pinney Talfourd.