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Civil Partnerships

The legal status of your Civil Partnership

What is involved?

A civil partnership is the registration of a relationship between two members of the same sex who are living together.

Civil partners are treated in the same way as married couples for tax purposes and many benefits. Most pension entitlement has been brought into line with those enjoyed by married people.

Civil partners have a duty to maintain each other and any children of the partnership. They are also able to acquire parental responsibility for their partners’ children in certain circumstances and adopt a child jointly.

Click here to download our Civil Partnerships print-out guide.

Why choose Freeths?

  • We can explain the difference between civil partnerships and marriage
  • We can advise you on how entering a civil partnership and any subsequent dissolution could affect your personal and financial circumstances
  • We are ranked in the top tier by both the Legal 500 and Chambers for family law advice
  • You can trust our team to take a sensitive, empathetic approach to your personal situation

Call our nationally renowned family team to find out how we can help you.

Is Civil Partnership like a Marriage?

Yes and no. The eligibility criteria are broadly similar. Each party must not already be married or a civil partner and must not be under 16 years old or closely related. Standard procedure is that you have to provide 15 days’ notice to your local register office after which you can register your civil partnership by signing a civil partnership schedule in front of a registrar and two witnesses. There cannot be a religious element and at the moment there is no prescribed ceremony or wording. Both parties must be of the same sex. This is not an alternative to marriage for heterosexual couples.

What about “divorce”?

A civil partnership can be ended only by death, dissolution or annulment. As with divorce, dissolution is a court-based process and you will need legal advice. The grounds are very similar to those for divorce and include unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation (with consent), 5 years’ separation (without consent), or if one partner has deserted the other for two years.

A civil partner will not be able to apply for a Dissolution Order until a year has elapsed since the formation of the partnership. A Dissolution Order is initially conditional and finalised six weeks later, similar to a divorce.

The courts have the power to make provision for the division of property (including pensions), the maintenance of either civil partner or residence, as well as contact with, and maintenance of, any children of the partnership. The type of orders that can be made and matters that should be taken into account are close to those in divorce legislation.

Would you like to talk to someone?

Contact our Civil Partnerships team

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"Many thanks, once again, for the very professional manner with which you handled this whole matter."


"Definitely put their clients first. The firm is committed to establishing a close working relationship with the clients in order to facilitate the best possible outcome for them."

(Chambers & Partners, 2016)


"I was really satisfied with the team. I felt very supported. Noting was too much trouble, and I could always get hold of the lawyers. They were helpful, supportive and friendly, and they explained everything in layman's terms."

(Chambers & Partners, 2016)

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