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Ask the Lawyer: Should we get a civil partnership or a marriage?

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PinkNews brings you the latest in a series of features which sees your real questions answered by leading lawyers at Simpson Millar.

The latest question comes from a person who is unsure of whether they want to enter into a civil partnership or a marriage, and of the differences between the two.

The reader asks: “We are a couple currently considering whether to get married or enter a civil partnership. We’ve heard civil partnerships might not provide the same level of legal protection around the world – is this true?”

A Simpson Millar lawyer says: “It is an extremely personal decision when deciding on whether to enter into a marriage or civil partnership and as long as you are aware of the differences then there should be no surprises later down the line.

“Civil partnerships are only available to same-sex couples. Same-sex and heterosexual couples can get married in England, Scotland and Wales, but same-sex marriage is not available in Northern Ireland.

Hands wedding rings
Hands wedding rings

“Civil partnerships are the UK Government’s approach to giving comparable rights to same-sex couples as those enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.”

Adding: “This means that civil partners will be treated equally to married couples in a wide range of legal matters, such as:

  • Tax, including inheritance tax
  • Employment benefits
  • Most state and occupational pension benefits
  • Income-related benefits, tax credits and child support
  • Duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner and any children of the family
  • Ability to apply for parental responsibility for your civil partner’s child
  • Inheritance of a tenancy agreement
  • Recognition under intestacy rules
  • Access to fatal accidents compensation
  • Protection from domestic violence
  • Recognition for immigration and nationality purposes
  • But there are some differences that you may wish to consider before making this decision.

Parental responsibility

The lawyer goes on: “If a same-sex couple is married and a child is born, both parents automatically receive parental responsibility for the child. In the event of divorce, either person can also be ordered to pay maintenance to their former spouse if they were financially dependent on them.

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