A heterosexual couple have won their application for the right to enter into a civil partnership rather than a marriage. This has overruled a previous judgement made by the Court of Appeal.
The couple have been in a long-term relationship and have two children. They decided that they did not want to get married and instead wanted to enter into a civil partnership which reflected their values and beliefs. Unfortunately, civil partnerships do not apply to heterosexual couples.
What is a Civil Partnership?
A couple who enter into a civil partnership would be entitled to the same legal rights in relation to financial matters, for example in terms of inheritance and pensions and also upon dissolution of the partnership, as a couple would be who chosen to enter into a marriage. A civil partnership would also be free from any of the religious implications which are often associated with marriage. The law currently provides that a civil partnership is only an option available to same-sex couples.
Due to this, the couple issued a Court application to state that, when the law changed and allowed same-sex couples to marry in 2013, same-sex couples were given the choice as to whether they wanted a civil partnership or a marriage. This same choice was not granted to heterosexual couples as the Civil Partnership Act only applies to same-sex couples. They argued that this breached their human rights.
The Court have now ruled that the Civil Partnership Act is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights due to the inequality for heterosexual couples who have only had the option of marriage. This is welcome news to many who say that there can be no justification for the difference in treatment between same-sex and heterosexual couples and the law should be brought in line to reflect the changes made providing for same-sex couples to marry.
Unfortunately, the Judgment does not mean that the government now has to change the law. However, it is likely that the government will act upon this historic decision made by the Court, and a change to the Civil Partnership Act will therefore be eagerly anticipated.
Keep an eye out on McCarthy Bennett Holland’s blogs for more updates as and when they happen!
Please do not hesitate to contact our family solicitors Gillian Lavelle or Kim Busby if you wish to discuss any of the above further. McCarthy Bennett Holland are able to offer a free 30 minute initial consultation and are more than happy to assist.
www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors