Non related, same sex couples may enter into a civil partnership (CP). This is not the same as same sex marriage and civil partners cannot call themselves married for legal purposes.
Civil partnerships are registered by both parties signing a civil partnership agreement. This is entirely a civil event. Partners can choose to add a civil or religious ceremony following the formation of their civil partnership but this does not form part of the formation of the civil partnership. The CP is recorded in an electronic register and you can purchase a CP certificate. Notice of the intention to enter into a CP is given by each party anywhere within the local authority where he/she has lived for the previous 7 days.
Civil partners are treated the same as married men and women irrespective of their gender. There are financial benefits, e.g. surviving partners of deceased civil partners may be entitled to widows/widower’s pension benefits. Civil partners can also use the same inheritance tax exemptions available to husbands and wives.
A civil partnership can be annulled if either party did not consent to the formation of the CP for example if either party was suffering from a mental disorder and could not give consent or one party was pregnant by someone other than the applicant at the time the CP was formed.
A civil partnership can be ended by a Dissolution Order on the ground that the relationship has broken down. The process is similar to divorce in that one party has to state that the CP has broken down irretrievably. The applicant party can rely on the other party’s unreasonable behaviour or the parties can live separately for 2 years and the other party must consent. If they live separately for 5 years, consent of the other party is not required. One can also rely on Desertion but not on Adultery.
Within dissolution proceedings, parties should ensure that they agree financial arrangements and ensure those arrangements are recorded in an order which is approved by the court.
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