PM Announces Civil Partnerships for Mixed-Sex Couples WILL Happen


Marriage has in recent years undergone change that has made it widely available to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples. While that focus has of course been well meaning, in its wake it has left another segment of the community stranded when wanting to formalise their relationship.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 made it possible for same-sex couples to enter into a legally binding union that mirrored the effect of marriage. At that point, marriage itself was not available. A civil partnership did however ensure that gay couples were able to protect each other financially as well as express their dedication to each other.

More recently in 2013, it has become possible for same-sex couples to marry. The choice is therefore everyone’s for the taking. However, it had perhaps been assumed that everyone would be happy with those binary choices: Marriage or Civil Partnership.

Increasingly, the voice of the secular mixed-sex couple has grown in volume. Those not wanting to marry but are in a mixed-sex relationship are stuck. They cannot unify themselves as their gay friends can with a civil partnership or marriage, or like their straight friends with a marriage.

In June this year, The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favour of Rebecca Steinfeld and her partner Charles Keidan. They involved the courts arguing that they should be allowed to have a civil partnership.The court found that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The courts cannot change the law, but they can influence government. The Office for National Statistics suggests that there are 3.3 million unmarried cohabiting couples in the UK and that more than half have children. Legally, if they are of the opposite sex and object to marriage, they have no alternative to ensure their legal and financial security. Theresa May has announced at the Conservative Party Conference that she wants to correct this imbalance: 

“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”

Theresa May, UK Prime Minister

​ We shall be watching with keen interest as the law is changed. It will tie in with the government consultation on the reform of divorce as a whole to make it more humane.


For more information on marriage and civil partnership, please contact our Family Law department on 01708 229444 or email us using the form to the right.This article was written by Sebastian Burrows, Partner at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of October 2018.


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