Your Complete Guide to Civil Partnerships
Frequently Asked Questions About Civil Partnerships
How does a civil partnership differ from marriage?
Civil Partnership is a completley new legal relationship, exclusively for same sex couples, distinct from marriage.
The Government has sought to give civil partners parity of treatment with spouses, as far as is possible, in the rights and responsibilities that flow from forming a civil partnership.
There are a small number of differences between civil partnership and marriage. For example a civil marriage is formed when the couple exchange spoken words. In a civil partnership, the schedule needs to be signed and witnessed for the partnership to be formed. A man and woman can opt for a religious or civil marriage ceremony as they choose, whereas formation of a civil partnership between same sex couples is only legally recognised by civil procedure.
Who is eligible?
The couple must both be of the same sex, not already be in a civil partnership or marriage, be 16 years of age or older, and not be within the prohibited degrees of relationship.
In Wales, individuals who are aged 16 and 17 will have to obtain the written consent of their parent(s) or guardian(s) before registering a civil partnership.
What formal requirements have to be met before registration can take place?
You and your partner will need to each give notice to any registration authority. When you each give notice, you will be asked to give the date when and place where the civil partnership registration is to take place so these details will need to have been first agreed with the local authority where the registration is to take place.
Will I have to show any documentation when I give my notice?
Yes. In order to give your Notice you will be asked to produce documents as evidence of name, age and residency in Wales and England for the preceding 7 days. If you have been previously married or in a civil partnership you will be required to provide evidence of the termination of that marriage or of the civil partnership.
If you have changed your name by deed poll or statutory declaration you ill be required to produce that document.
Each party to the partnership will be required to declare their nationality to enable the Superintendent Registrar to advise you whether any further administrative procedure or legal requirements are needed.
What is the waiting period for a civil partnership?
There will be a 15 day waiting period once each person has given notice of intention to register, before the civil partnership can be registered. There will be procedures in place to reduce the 15 day waiting period in exceptional circumstances where there are compelling reasons to do so.
It will also be possible for a civil partnership to be registered at the residence of someone who is housebound, detained or seriously ill and not expected to recover.
There are procedures to allow couples to form a civil partnership quickly in the cases of former spouses, one of whom has changed gender under the provisions of the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
What time of day can a civil partnership be registered?
Civil partnerships can only be registered between 8am and 6pm. However, where one of the couple is seriously ill and not expected to recover, then the civil partnership may be formed at any time.
What information will be made public about my civil partnership?
When you give notice of your intention to register a civil partnership, details from the notice will be available in a register office for public inspection in the registration authority's area where registration is to take place but details will not include the address of you or your partner.
It is important that these details are publicly available during the 15 day waiting period, to allow for objections to be made, just as is the case for marriage.
What happens at a civil partnership registration?
A civil partnership will be registered once the couple has signed the civil partnership document in the presence of a registrar and two witnesses. There will be words printed on the document which the couple will be able to say at the time of signing the document. Civil partnership registration is an entirely secular process, and the Civil Partnership Act prevents any religious service from taking place during the statutory steps leading to the formation of a civil partnership.
Can we have a ceremony?
You will be able to arrange a ceremony in addition to the signing of the legal documentation if you wish, but a ceremony is not required under the Act. It is up to you to decide.
Can we change our names after registering a civil partnership?
After registering, some people might want to change their surname to that of their partner, or a couple may choose to hyphenate their names. Government departments and agencies such as the Passport Agency and the DVLA, will accept civil partnership certificates in the same way they accept marriage certificates as evidence for changing names
There are several types of pensions e.g State pensions, private pensions etc. They are each treated differently under the Civil Partnership Act 2004. Therefore, for information concerning pensions, contact The Pension Service:
0845 606 0265.
In the Workplace
Employers are required to treat their civil partner employees in the same way as married employees in similar circumstances. See www.acas.org.uk
Civil partners will be treated in the same way as married people for all tax purposes, including inheritance tax and capital gains tax. Contact your local tax office for more information. Go to http://www.hmrc.ac.uk
Social Security benefits and Tax credits
The income of a civil partner or a cohabiting same sex partner will be taken into account in the same was as for a married couple and a cohabiting opposite sex couple. Contact the benefits enquiry line 0800 882200 or the tax credit helpline 0845 300 3900 for more information.
Some same sex couples have caring responsibilities for children. The law recignises the role of both partners in respect of a child living in their household. A person is able to acquire parental responsibility for their civil partner's child. They can do this with the agreement of their civil partner, as long as the civil partner has parental responsibilities themselves. If the child's other parent also has parental responsibility, both parents must agree. Parental responsibility can also be acquired on application to the court.
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