Following the recent Supreme Court ruling, heterosexual couples will now be able to enter into a civil partnership. Although the Government is yet to make a change to the legislation, it will grant many couples more rights than those who are cohabiting. For many couples, the thought of marriage does not bring about equality due to the traditional gender roles and religious vows. This change therefore allows greater freedom for those who do not want to participate in a ceremony and exchange vows, although they can do so if they wish.
So, what is the difference between a marriage and a civil partnership?
A civil partnership is created by the signing of a document which includes the signatures of both parents of the couple and the couple are then known as civil partners, but they cannot say they are married for legal reasons. A marriage requires a formal ceremony to take place with vows, whereas a civil partnership only requires that a document is signed. In terms of legal rights, a civil partnership affords a very similar position to marriage, for example, the rights are the same for inheritance, tax and pensions. However, it could be argued that globally, marriage is recognised in a whole host of countries and civil partnerships are only recognised in a few.
It appears that Scotland is also looking into this.
Here at the Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic, we can advise on family related issues.