Civil partnerships

1. What is a civil partnership?
Civil partnership is a legal relationship for same-sex couples, aged 16 and over. It gives lesbian and gay couples the same legal benefits as heterosexual married couples.

2. When did the law come into effect?
The Civil Partnership Act came into effect on 5th December 2005.

3. Are civil partnerships available throughout the UK?
The Civil Partnership Act applies to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

4. What rights do we get?
Same sex couples who register their partnership gain access to a number of legal rights. These include rights to survivor pensions, recognition for immigration purposes, equal treatment for tax purposes, including inheritance tax, protection from domestic violence.

5. What about responsibilities for children?
If you register your partnership you will be able to gain responsibility for each other's children, and will have a duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your partner and any children of the family.

6. What about pensions?
As for widowers, civil partners are able to access survivor pensions in public service schemes and contracted-out pension schemes from 1988.

7. What about taxes?
Civil partners are treated in the same way as spouses for tax purposes. For further information, visit, www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk.

8. What about benefits?
If you form a civil partnership, you will be treated jointly for income-related benefits. For further information, visit, www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk.

9. What will happen if my partner dies?
If one of you dies after you have registered your civil partnership, the surviving partner will automatically inherit their partner's estate if there is no will. They will have the right to register the death of their partner and will be eligible for bereavement benefits.

They will also have the right to claim a survivor pension, will have tenancy succession rights and will be able to claim compensation for fatal accidents or criminal injuries. They will also be recognised under inheritance tax rules.

10. Do we need to be living together in order to register our partnership?
No.

11. How much will it cost to register our civil partnership?
There are statutory fees to pay the registrar. For further details contact your local council or registry office, or the General Register Office: www.gro.gov.uk.

12. How do we register our civil partnership?
You will need to go to the registration service where you live to give formal notice in person of your intention to register your partnership. You will be able to register 15 days after giving this notice, during which time the registration service will check your eligibility. Following this, you will form your civil partnership by signing a document in the presence of a registration officer and two witnesses.

13. Where can we register our civil partnership?
You can register your partnership in any premises licensed to carry out registrations, not just a registry office. For a list of licensed venues, contact your local authority, or the General Register Office: www.gro.gov.uk.

14. Can we register our civil partnership anywhere in the UK?
Gay and lesbian couples can form their civil partnership in licensed premises anywhere in the UK. However, you will still have to notify your local authority of your intention to register your civil partnership. The local authority will need to know the details of when and where you are going to register.

15. What will we be called after we register our civil partnership?
Legally you will be 'civil partners'.

For further information, visit, www.stonewall.org.uk


Useful links

Government website with information about civil partnership ceremonies

Stonewall's information about civil partnership ceremonies

Government's Registry Office information

Job Centre Plus website

Inland Revenue website

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