Civil Partnerships

Civil Partnerships

Civil Partnership Act 2010

Introduction

The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 (The Civil Partnership Act) was passed into law in June 2010. The Act is due to come into force in early 2011. The Act is extremely important as it grants new rights for both same sex and opposite sex couples. The Act deals with both the civil registration of same sex partnerships and with the rights and duties of cohabiting couples.

Civil Partnership

One of the main focus points of the Act is that it provides for Civil Partnership for same sex couples. The Act creates a new legal relationship of Civil Partnership for same sex couples upon the registration of their relationship. Civil Partnerships may only be dissolved or come to an end upon the death of one of the partners or by a formal dissolution by the Court. The Act gives legal effect to a range of property, financial and other rights to couples who chose to have their civil partnership registered. These rights include a provision for maintenance, inheritance entitlements and pension provision.

The Act also allows a court to make orders including financial relief orders upon the dissolution of a civil partnership. These orders are similar to the orders currently available upon Judicial Separation or Divorce and include periodical and lump sum maintenance payments, pension adjustment orders and orders for the sale of a property.

The Act also introduces inheritance rights for civil partners which are the same rights currently granted to spouses. These inheritance rights include the right to a legal right share on testate succession and also allows for the rules of distribution on intestacy to apply. However the Act currently does not examine issues relating to tax and social welfare treatment of civil partners.