Prime Minister announces a change in the law to allow heterosexual couples to enter into a civil partnership

During her statement at the Conservative Party conference, the Prime Minister announced a change to the existing law which will permit heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships in England and Wales. Currently, same-sex couples have the choice whether to enter into a marriage or a civil partnership; whereas heterosexual couples can only marry in order to legalise their relationship.

The Supreme Court paved the way for a change to legislation following their decision in Steinfeld and Keidan v Secretary of State for International Development (in substitution for the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary) [2018] UKSC 32, whereby it was held that the current law was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Some campaigners for the change argued that the institution of marriage is an outdated concept and instead, would like the option to enter into a civil partnership which they feel is more in touch with modern day reality. Therefore, this has been seen as a welcome change for many.

Essentially, there are no major differences between the rights afforded to those who are married and those who enter into a civil partnership; save for the formalities of the ceremony and the fact that in a civil partnership, you cannot rely on adultery as a reason for dissolution. However, if you intend to move abroad, it is important that the check the legal status of civil partnerships in that particular country.

Please check back on our website for further family law updates. If you have any questions in relation to any aspects of family law and would like to book an appointment at either our Westcliff, Benfleet or Billericay offices, please contact the Family Department on 01702 338388 or 01277 500123.