Another way: civil partnerships law extended to same-sex couples
Today scripts a momentous occasion extending the remit of Civil Partnerships law by virtue of the Civil Partnership, Marriages and Deaths (Registration) Act 2019 which now provides by virtue of Section 2 (1):
“To persons who are not of the same sex to form a civil partnership in England and Wales”
These regulations shall be in full effect no later than 31 December 2019 and as of today, 2 December 2019, those who previously held ceremonies in other jurisdictions that already provide them, such as South Africa, Netherlands, New Zealand and the Isle of Man, will have their unions automatically recognised.
Empowering people who do not want to marry
This new social institution empowers those individuals who sought not to extend their relationships by getting married, however, want to give their family stability and greater security within their relationship and protect their children’s interests.
There are over 3 million opposite-sex couples who co-habit but choose not to marry for a variety of reasons. The children within these relationships are not afforded the security or legal protections that married couples, or civil partners of the same sex, enjoy.
These couples also fall short of having their financial rights protected by way of personal allowances for Income Tax and pension security in the event of a bereavement.
The legislation removes the unfairness, as all couples will have the same options for formalising their relationships and give long term, cohabiting, opposite-sex couples who do not want to marry, the opportunity to gain rights, protection and recognition, as a way of encouraging stable family relationships.
This would also mean that a civil partnership will no longer effectively be a declaration of sexual orientation and allow couples to remain in a civil partnership if one partner changes their legal gender.
The changes also mean that there will be a presumption of paternity so that a child born to a woman in a civil partnership with a man is a child of that man. The law has been extended so that where a child’s mother and father were in a civil partnership at the time of the child’s birth they shall each have Parental Responsibility for the child.
In practice, this will mean that in those situations where we have previously had to obtain the consent of the mother or make applications to the Court to acquire Parental Responsibility, these difficulties will be avoided if the parties have entered into a civil partnership. These are welcomed modifications and will give father’s a greater level of protection in those sorts of situations.
Reflecting changing families
On a personal note, I see this as a remarkable step forward to recognise the way in which families are now changing and empowering individuals to make the personal and financial choices associated with how they view their relationship.
It will alleviate those people who find themselves in long-term relationships with minimal legal protection. It is an exciting time ahead and we are yet to see what the uptake of this legislation will mean for individuals and, indeed, whether it will mean that people will opt for this social institution as opposed to marriage.
Naheed Taj, Managing Partner at the Stowe Family Law office in Reading.
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