Heterosexual Civil Partnership?
On 19 January 2016 a heterosexual couple began a legal fight in the High Court in London in the hope that they will be able to enter into a civil partnership.
A civil partnership is akin to a civil marriage. It affords the couple a package of legal rights and responsibilities which is almost identical to marriage. English law currently only allows same sex partners to enter into civil partnerships, which were introduced in 2003 when it was not possible for same sex partners to marry. However, since 2014 same sex couples have been able to marry and they therefore have a choice of whether to enter into a marriage or a civil partnership. A choice which is not available to couples of the opposite sex.
Miss Steinfeld who has brought the high court action states:
“We want to be able to celebrate our relationship with each other and formalise our commitment to each other within a social institution which is modern, which is symmetrical and that focuses on equality, which is exactly what a civil partnership is.”
She argues that the current restriction on entering into a civil partnership discriminates against her and is incompatible with her right to a private and family life. In the Netherlands civil partnership is an option for all couples. 11% of heterosexual couples choose to enter a civil partnership. Miss Steinfeld believes that this option should be available to everyone.
Whether civil partnerships will be extended to heterosexual couples remains to be seen. If you have any questions or concerns about the legal relationship created by entering into a marriage or civil partnership or if you are considering divorce, dissolution or separation then seek early legal advice to ensure you know your rights. Barker Gotelee can offer a free and confidential consultation for anyone who needs help and advice.
Josephine Hayes is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.