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Same sex marriage & civil partnerships
The landmark Civil Partnership Act came into force on 5th December 2005. Any couple wishing to form a civil partnership may now give notice to register at a Register Office.
Couples entering into a civil partnership will broadly have similar rights to married couples including employment and pension benefits, recognition under intestacy rules, access to fatal accidents compensation, recognition for immigration and nationality purposes and equitable treatment for the purposes of life assurance.
Civil Partners also have the same duties as a married couple, which includes a duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner and any children of the family. You will be assessed in the same way as spouses for child support.
Legal assistance is not required in order to form a civil partnership - the Registrar at your local Register Office can be contacted to advise of the formalities of entering into a civil partnership. However, legal advice can ensure that the legal implications of entering into a civil partnership are understood.
If the relationship breaks down, a civil partnership can be dissolved after one year. The procedure is very similar to divorce, except that there is no concept of adultery. Financial provision and matters relating to children are again very similar to those in respect of divorce.
Same Sex Marriages
On 29 March 2014, the institution of Marriage was extended to include same sex couples England and Wales. Same sex couples now have the option of entering into a Marriage, over and above the option to enter into a Civil Partnership.
The rights and obligations of a Married same sex couple are exactly the same as those of a Married non-same sex couple.
Again, legal advice is not necessary before entering into a Marriage, but advice on pre-nuptial agreements can help to protect your interests in the event of a relationship breakdown. A same sex Marriage is dissolved by way of a divorce.