They are a state-recognised status for same sex couples, and the rights and responsibilities arising from a civil partnership are virtually identical to those of marriage, especially in terms of tax, and in terms of available remedies if the civil partnership breaks down.
Generally, foreign civil partnerships are recognised in England and Wales, subject to various criteria being satisfied.
Civil partnership “divorce” or dissolution can be obtained in the same way as a divorce in a marriage. Irretrievable breakdown has to be proven by establishing one of four facts, namely unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation with consent, two years’ desertion or five years’ separation. It is not possible to obtain a civil partnership dissolution based on adultery.
On civil partnership dissolution the full range of financial claims, as with divorce, can be claimed.
In 2014, the Government announced that civil partnerships would remain as a separate status, despite the introduction of same sex marriage that year. Opposite sex couples can still not enter into a civil partnership. It is possible to convert a civil partnership into a marriage by signing a “conversion into marriage” declaration at a register office. The date on the marriage certificate will be the date on which the civil partnership was originally formed.
Hughes Fowler Carruthers has considerable experience in advising on civil partnerships.