Civil Partnerships a new possibility after couple win case

31 Jul 2018

A hetrosexual couple have won their case to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage. This ruling could significantly change the formation of ‘family’ as we currently know it.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, deeply opposed marriage at a core level as it “treated women as property for centuries”. They wanted their children to see them as equal partners and felt that a civil partnership was the best route for them as “a modern and symmetrical institution”.

How does Marriage compare to a Civil Partnership?

  • Equal legal treatment in matters including inheritance, tax, pensions and next-of-kin arrangements;
  • Rules for the dissolution of a civil partnership are the same as those for marriage, except that adultery cannot be used as evidence;
  • In a civil ceremony there is no requirement to exchange vows and while you can include readings, songs or music, there must be no religious component;
  • Partnership can be conducted in private, whereas marriage ceremonies must be public and can be conducted by clergy;
  • Marriage certificates include the names of only the fathers of the parties. Civil partnership certificates include the names of both parents;

Since March 2014, same sex-couples have been able to choose whether to enter a civil partnership or to marry, but this is not open to men and women who cohabit. It was decided at this stage not to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, or to either abolish or phase them out. This led Steinfeld and Keidan to argue that the law is discriminatory.

Civil

In February 2017, the couple’s argument was rejected by the Court of Appeal on the basis that they did not meet the requirement of the Civil Partnership Act as they were not of the ‘same sex’. However, it was then acknowledged then that this may be in contravention of the couple’s rights under the European Convention of Human Rights.

The couple took their argument to the Supreme Court and in announcing the court’s decision, Lord Kerr said the government did not seek to justify the difference in treatment between same-sex and different sex couples. “To the contrary, it accepts that the difference cannot be justified,” he said.

Whilst the judgement does not oblige the government to alter the law it will certainly add to the mounting momentum for change. In July 2016, the Isle of Man became the only part of the British Isles where both gay and straight couples can enter civil partnerships and we may very soon see a move towards equality ourselves.

If you would like to discuss any matrimonial matter, please do not hesitate to contact Tejal Samani at Pindoria Solicitors and she will be pleased to assist you.

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