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A civil partnership now provides legal rights for both same sex and oposite sex couples, similar to those in a marriage, in areas such as wills and inheritance rights, financial issues such as tax pensions and insurance.  It is also a contract with legal implications, particularly in terms of the division of assets if the relationship breaks down

There are a few differences, such as:

  • it is not necessary to consummate a civil partnership and consequently it cannot be dissolved for non-consummation
  • a civil partnership cannot be dissolved on the basis of the term ‘adultery’, although if one party is unfaithful this would be considered ‘unreasonable behaviour’ , a term which can be used.

Civil partnerships were intially only available to same sex couples but this changed in the summer of 2018 following a ruling by the UK's highest court confirming that restricting civil partnerships to gay couples was a breach of human rights.

When considering entering a civil partnership, if one or both parties has significant wealth built up via a business or inherited, then they may wish to seek to protect this in the event of the partnership failing.  This can be done via a pre+partnership agreement.

When a relationship breaks down, a civil partnership must be formally ‘dissolved’ by the court which has powers to make orders relating to financial matters and any children, as in a divorce. 

If you have a will, you will need to make another will as it will be invalid once you have entered into partnership and any trusts will need revising.

Same sex couples who want children should seek advice from a family lawyer as the situation can be very complicated and a number of legal issues can arise regarding parental responsibility. 

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