Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that laws banning opposite-sex couples from civil partnerships were in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
So, for couples who dislike the idea of traditional marriage but would like full legal recognition of their relationship, the news that opposite-sex couples will soon be able to enter into civil partnerships will be welcomed. This move will address the imbalance that allows same-sex couples to choose, but not mixed-sex couples.
Although no date has been fixed yet, the government is expected to introduce the change during this year as The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Bill has passed through the committee stage in the House of Lords. When this private member’s bill becomes enacted, it will grant opposite-sex couples the right to form civil partnerships.
WHAT DIFFERENCE WILL IT MAKE?
One of the most significant benefits that civil partnerships bring is that the partners have the same inheritance rights as married couples. The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics1 showed that in the UK the fastest-growing family type was cohabiting couples. There were 3.3 million cohabiting families in 2017, more than double the figure in 1996.
Mistakenly, some cohabiting couples believe they have the same rights as married couples or civil partners. However, whilst marriages and civil partnerships give couples statutory legal protections and responsibilities to each other, the situation isn’t the same for those who cohabit, especially when it comes to things like property, Inheritance Tax and pensions. For example, even if a Will is made in favour of a cohabitant, they aren’t entitled to the spouse exemptions from Inheritance Tax.