Civil Partnership Court Challenge by Heterosexual Couple Defeated

11 Apr 2016

As experienced family lawyers we at Pindoria Solicitors have noted one of the more interesting legal developments in recent weeks, of a heterosexual couple who want to enter into a civil partnership rather than marry.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, from London, lost the legal challenge claiming the family law discriminated against them after they were told in 2014 that they could not enter into a civil partnership because they were not of the same sex, which the law requires.

However, it isn’t the end as despite the judge dismissing their claim for judicial review. The couple say they will appeal. Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan said they wanted a civil partnership as it “focuses on equality” and did not carry the patriarchal history and what they deemed other baggage associated with marriage.

Despite this though, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 requires that partners be “two people of the same sex”. It grants gay couples legal rights similar to those given to married couples. The introduction of same-sex marriage – which became legal in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014 – has since given gay couples a choice between that and civil partnership.

The couple argued that, as a heterosexual couple, they did not have the same choice as gay couples and that current legislation was “incompatible” with their right to a private and family life, they said.

The government argued that civil marriage was an institution that protected the core values of family life and was entirely egalitarian, and that where the objection was ideological there was no infringement of rights. This will not be the last we hear as the couple have 36,000 people who’ve signed a petition supporting opening up civil partnerships to all.

However, this change in society is evolving and the Government said it would wait “to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacts upon civil partnerships before reaching a final decision on the future of civil partnerships.”

This is a huge debate, which will continue to be aired, but regardless of civil partnerships or marriage, we at Pindoria Solicitors would say it is vital that couples committing together in a union make sure they have legal protection.

Too many suffer too greatly without protecting themselves if a relationship goes wrong. We shall leave the debates over the institution of marriage for others and simply say protection of one assets, when co-habiting is vital. Many people are left high and dry after a relationship break-up where there has been no legal agreement put in place.

We ask anybody reading this worried about their own situation to speak to us at Pindoria Solicitors. We are happy to put your mind at ease.

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