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Prime Minister Announces That “Civil Partnerships Will Be Open to All!”

Zoe Rose

Senior solicitor Zoe Rose, in our Family team, reflects on Prime Minister Theresa May's promise to ensure that Civil Partnership are open to all.

Following on from my blog last month, Family Law professionals up and down the country have been waiting for the Government’s response to the very clear decision of the Supreme Court in Steinfield that the Civil Partnership Act is incompatible with the with the European Convention on Human Rights and is therefore, discriminatory. Yesterday at the annual Conservative Party conference, Theresa May announced that the Government is committed to eradicating this discrimination in the legislation by opening up the ability to enter into a Civil Partnership to all. Announcing this, Theresa May stated that “this change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalise their relationship but don’t necessarily want to get married.”

The latest government statistics confirm that there are more than 3.3 million unmarried couples in the UK who live together with shared financial responsibilities and more than half of these couples have children together. Whilst the ability to enter into a Civil Partnership will allow those adverse to marriage the opportunity to formalise their relationships and as a result benefit from the same protections available to those who are married, this is not a perfect solution. As explored in my previous blog, many couples who live together do so under the misapprehension that simply by living together with someone for a significant period of time you acquire the same rights and protections as those who are legally married. Despite a huge effort from the profession to dispel this myth (colloquially known as the “common law spouse”) many still do not realise the position in law is not as they believe it to be. The change to the Civil Partnership Act announced by the Prime Minister this week will do nothing to dispel this myth or provide key protections to those who do not take steps to formalise their relationship. As a result, whilst this is a step in the right direction, further modernisation of the law in this area is desperately needed to ensure that all families in the UK are protected, however they choose to live. It is hoped that the Prime Minister’s announcement this week is recognition by the Government of the much needed reform required to protect families such that this enduring problem will be bought to the forefront of the political debate so that this wider issue is also grappled with.

For further information or legal advice, please contact Zoe Rose or a member of our team.

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.