Today at the Conservative Party Conference, Theresa May has announced a potentially huge change to the way our modern families are formed in the England and Wales.
May stated that she is keen to ensure all couples are given the "same choices in life" by allowing opposite-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships.
Currently, opposite-sex couples only have the option to marry whilst same-sex couples can chose whether to marry or enter into a civil partnership. Campaigners seek a change in the law to provide greater security for unmarried families by making civil partnerships available to all. Theresa May has today announced plans for this law to be amended.
Rebecca Steinfield and Charles Keidan pursued a legal challenge to be allowed to enter into a civil partnership and after a long battle the Supreme Court this year ruled unanimously in their favour. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 was found to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Rebecca and Charles would therefore be able to form a civil partnership should the law be changed.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 defines a civil partnership as a 'relationship between two people of the same sex'. Later in 2013, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 legalised same sex marriage. Introduction of same-sex marriage therefore created a choice for all same sex couples as to whether to marry or enter a civil partnership. On that basis, the Supreme Court found this inequality amounted to discrimination.
There are currently around 3.3 million unmarried couples in UK who live together and share financial responsibilities and subsequently as the law stands many of those are left vulnerable with little to no protection. If couples were to enter into either a civil partnership or marriage, they would receive a much higher level of protection.
The main considerations for entering into a civil partnership are that the process is arguably free of religious connotations and will provide the parties with legal and financial protection in the event the relationship ends.
The issue raised in this article is just one of many involving family law that are likely to be considered or reformed in the coming years which may in turn lead to a changing dynamic in the modern family set up.
To find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail, our specialist Family Law Solicitors can help. Our advice is bespoke, confidential and totally designed around you, helping you come to the best conclusion for both you and your family. Contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, and Sheringham offices.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.