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A civil partnership now provides legal rights for both same sex and oposite sex couples, similar to those in a marriage, in areas such as wills and inheritance rights, financial issues such as tax pensions and insurance. It is also a contract with legal implications, particularly in terms of the division of assets if the relationship breaks down.
There are a few differences, such as:
- it is not necessary to consummate a civil partnership and consequently it cannot be dissolved for non-consummation
- a civil partnership cannot be dissolved on the basis of the term ‘adultery’, although if one party is unfaithful this would be considered ‘unreasonable behaviour’ , a term which can be used.
Civil partnerships were intially only available to same sex couples but this changed in the summer of 2018 following a ruling by the UK's highest court confirming that restricting civil partnerships to gay couples was a breach of human rights.
When considering entering a civil partnership, if one or both parties has significant wealth built up via a business or inherited, then they may wish to seek to protect this in the event of the partnership failing. This can be done via a pre+partnership agreement.
When a relationship breaks down, a civil partnership must be formally ‘dissolved’ by the court which has powers to make orders relating to financial matters and any children, as in a divorce.
Same sex couples who want children should seek advice from a family lawyer as the situation can be very complicated and a number of legal issues can arise regarding parental responsibility.
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