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Civil partnership and marriage

April 29, 2015

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 legalised marriages between same sex couples from March 2014.

What is the difference between a Civil Partnership and a Marriage?

There is very little difference between a marriage and a Civil Partnership. However there are some differences when looking at their legal rights.

  • Married couples cannot call themselves civil partners for legal purposes and likewise civil partners cannot call themselves married again for legal purposes;
  • Marriages are solemnized by saying a prescribed form of words. Whereas Civil Partnerships are registered by signing the civil partnership documents, no words are required to be spoken;
  • Marriages can be conducted through either a civil ceremony, or a religious ceremony if the religious organisation has agreed to solemnize marriages of same sex couples according to its rites. However the formation of a civil partnership is an entirely civil event;

A marriage can be annulled for the following reasons:

  1. If either party did not validly consent to the marriage;
  2. If either party was suffering from a mental disorder of such a kind as to render them unfit for marriage;
  3. If at the time of the marriage the respondent was suffering from a venereal disease in a communicable form;
  4. If the respondent was pregnant at the time of the marriage by some person other than the petitioner.
  • A civil partnership cannot be annulled if at the time of the marriage the respondent was suffering from a venereal disease in a communicable form;
  • Non –consummation of marriage is not a ground for annulment in same sex marriages or in Civil Partnerships;
  • Marriage is ended by divorce, by obtaining a decree absolute. Whereas Civil partnerships are ended by a dissolution order;
  • Adultery only applies to marriages. The definition of adultery is sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex outside of the marriage;
  • If a civil partner dies then the pension that the other partner receives will be lower and will last for a shorter period of time;

It is very important to ensure that you are fully aware of which contract you are entering into. They may seem similar if you were to attend a Registry Office but they can impact on your legal rights. AFG LAW can advise clients in respect of these matters.