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The history of civil partnerships in the UK

Civil partnerships were first introduced back in 2004. At that time, civil partnerships were thought of as the first step on the way to legalising gay marriage. Nearly a decade later, The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into effect, enabling same sex couples to legally marry. Despite this, civil partnerships remained in place – as an alternative to marriage, which many couples continue to choose for a number of reasons. For example, civil partnerships can provide an opportunity to distance the formalisation of their relationship in the eyes of the law from the religious associations with marriage.

Why has a consultation been launched?

Some critics suggest that civil partnerships in their current form create a different form of inequality. This is because currently, these partnerships are not available to heterosexual couples. According to the Independent, Conservative former minister Tim Loughton has brought forward a bill which seeks the extension of civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. There is some demand for this to happen, as shown by a notable case in 2017 where a couple took their case to the Supreme Court.

Could civil partnerships be abolished altogether?

While some are calling for civil partnerships to be reformed so as to make them available for opposite sex and same sex couples alike, others believe that they should be scrapped altogether. While some see the partnerships as an alternative to marriage to suit modern couples, others see them as unnecessary now that marriage has been legalised for same sex couples.

The government is now planning to review both of these important issues, to decide which direction to take civil partnerships in the UK. Commenting on the launch of the consultation and the reasons it is needed, junior Home Office minister Victoria Atkins has said:

“We are committed to resolving this issue, but we have to get some better evidence than we have at the moment in order to deal sensitively with the civil partnership issue.”

Ms Atkins also said that the consultation will research the current and ongoing demand for civil partnerships among heterosexual and homosexual couples in the UK.

Need help with a civil partnership issue?

If you are considering entering into a civil partnership, or have made the decision to end one, it’s important to seek reliable legal help from a specialist in family law. Liverpool family law solicitors Tracey Miller Family Law have decades of expertise and experience helping couples with marriage, civil partnership, divorce and separation. Please get in touch with one of our friendly team by calling 0151 515 3036 or contact us online.