First mixed sex civil partnership has been registered
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan celebrated being one of the first couples to obtain a mixed sex civil partnership at Kensington and Chelsea Register Office in West London on 31 December 2019. After Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan won their legal bid at the Supreme Court in 2018 for the right to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage, the rules were changed to make them available to everyone in England and Wales.
A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship between two people and offers many of the same benefits as a conventional marriage. It was introduced in 2004 by the Labour Government under the Civil Partnership Act applying to same sex couples over the age of 16. However, the numbers have declined since same sex marriage was introduced in the UK in 2014.
Now with the change in the law to allow couples to enter into a mixed sex civil partnership, any couple can enter into this legal union which gives the same rights as married couples in terms of tax benefits, pensions and inheritance.
Anyone who wishes to enter into a civil partnership must give notice 28 days before the ceremony takes place, which mirrors the timescale couples who wish to get married must give notice for at the registry office.
The main difference between a civil partnership and a marriage lies around the religious aspect. There are no religious connotations attached to civil partnerships, making them a desirable option for those who want to legally recognise their relationship but don’t align themselves with a particular religion.
The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament to make mixed sex partnerships legal whilst in Northern Ireland, a law which requires the government to legalise same sex marriage next month also requires it to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples.
Speaking on the steps of the registry office, Ms Steinfeld said their “personal wish” to form a civil partnership came from a “desire to formalise our relationship in a more modern way, with a focus on equality, and mutual respect”. Ms Steinfeld said it creates “new, modern possibilities” for thousands of people to express their love and commitment and end “the unrivalled position of marriage”.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.