Civil Partnerships; The Definitive Guide

A civil partnership is the union between two people of the same sex and although it is not exactly the same as a marriage between a male and female, there are many benefits which are now the same and this continues to increase over time. A civil partnership gives the couple and opportunity to share their love with others and shows that they are committed to spending the rest of their lives together. Civil Partnership became legal in 2005 and was a huge milestone for gay couples to becoming accepted in society. There are many steps which need to be taken when planning a civil partnership.

Registry Office
When you make the decision to become part of a civil partnership, you need to let the registry office know of your intentions. You will complete a notice with all your personal details and it will be valid for 12 months. You should arrange your civil ceremony during this 12 month period and make sure everything is in place.

Civil Ceremony and Witnesses
The civil ceremony can be arranged with the registrar and will be the same arrangements as you would make in a wedding. You will be able to play the music you like and set it up exactly the way suits you both, to your own tastes. You will also need to arrange two witnesses for the ceremony, as you would with any wedding. You should choose your bridesmaids, groomsmen, flowers, and the music you would like, just as with a wedding.

As with a wedding between heterosexual couples, the reception should be designed to suit your tastes. If you are unsure of what to have for your reception, a wedding planner can come in really handy to help with the set up. The reception can be as wild or as tame as you would like, depending on what you both feel is right for your civil partnership ceremony.

Legal Benefits
The Civil Partnership Act has allowed civil partners to enjoy many benefits which are the same or similar to that of heterosexual couples who enter into a legal marriage. Gay couples are entitled to tax breaks, employment benefits, protection from domestic violence, tax credits and child support and a whole range of other benefits. To get full information on this topic, and to get a clear list of all legal entitlements for people in a civil partnership, you should do some research on UK family law – it is all available online.

Changing Names
The civil partners are free to change their surnames or keep their own as they see fit. The Civil Partnership Certificate will detail all of this information and show the new surnames, if you choose to change them.

It’s not something you really wish to think about when organising a civil partnership, but you should consider the facts before you jump in head first. You cannot dissolve a civil partnership until you have been in it for at least a year and it is much the same as a divorce for same sex couples. A petition will be completed which will detail the reasons for dissolving the partnership and this will include living arrangements for children if you have them.

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Written by James Sheehan, a blogger with past legal experience.

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