20 March 2019

Civil partnerships extended to heterosexual couples

Lisa Boileau Partner & Head of Family

Marriage appears to have been at the top of the Government’s agenda over the last few months – a little light relief from the complex Brexit negotiations perhaps!

With a couple of significant changes planned, it would seem the powers that be in Westminster are looking to modernise what many see as relatively archaic rules and regulations when it comes to marriage.

Firstly, came the news that heterosexual couples will be legally allowed to enter civil partnerships if they so wish – an announcement that was made by the Prime Minister, following a Supreme Court ruling.

In the past Civil Partnerships have been solely reserved for same sex couples, but it is certainly the case that some heterosexual couples want the legal commitment to each other without the institutional or religious formalities associated with marriage and this change will enable that.

There is an important thing to remember here however, and that is a Civil Partnership is a valid ceremony and is therefore legally binding. With this in mind, couples must give appropriate consideration to a time perhaps when their union ends.

While no-one wishes to think about such a situation, we are all aware of the reality and when we look at separation from either a marriage or a civil partnership, past evidence shows that the financial implications of a breakdown have been dealt with on the same basis by the courts.

Therefore, there would be no or very little difference in approach upon an ending of either a marriage or civil partnership and our advice would be the same in any situation and that is to plan and prepare for any eventuality when uniting in any way. For example, this may be a discussion about putting a ‘pre or post-nuptial’ plan into place upon which both parties agree.

Finally, we note that plans are afoot to relax the current laws surrounding where people can marry, allowing couples to have the legal part of their ceremony performed in a whole variety of locations. Again, a positive move and with so many beautiful venues in our region to choose from, this will be a popular new ruling.

For further information, please contact Lisa Boileau on 01522 512345, email lisa.boileau@wilkinchapman.co.uk or visit wilkinchapman.co.uk

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