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Mark,
29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
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04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
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Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
Pauline Piper,
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The service was fast and ultra professional
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Great service and very reasonably priced,
Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
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About

A Civil Partnership is a legally recognised union between two people of the same sex. It is similar to marriage, but is not the same as marriage. Civil Partnerships are legal in the UK and a solicitor can advise you on how to proceed.Next steps

How much does a Civil Partnership cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with a Civil Partnership is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £150-£200 but in some cases it could cost as much as £250.

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Civil Partnership Lawyers

Civil partnerships can be an effective way to protect your financial interests without the formalities of marriage.

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If you're considering registering a civil partnership or, if circumstances necessitate the dissolution of your civil partnership due to a relationship breakdown, our network of civil partnership solicitors is here to help.

Contact our legal assessment team for a free case evaluation and quote today.

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a legal relationship between two unrelated individuals. Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can now enter into a civil partnership in the UK.

Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004 to recognise and safeguard the relationships of couples who choose not to marry for personal or philosophical reasons.

Unlike marriage, which involves vows in a ceremonial setting, a civil partnership is formed by signing a legal document called a civil partnership schedule in front of a registrar and two witnesses.

When you register a civil partnership, you and your partner gain a legal status similar to marriage, granting you many of the same rights and responsibilities across various legal areas like property, inheritance, taxes, and next-of-kin arrangements.

To learn more about the differences between marriage and civil partnership, take a look at our article: Civil Partnership vs Marriage.

Who can enter into a civil partnership?

In the UK, the criteria for entering a civil partnership aim to make sure that both parties are informed and protected when entering into a legally binding relationship.

The main criteria include:

Age

Both parties must be 16 or older.

If under 18 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, parental consent is required unless legally emancipated. In Scotland, individuals aged 16 and over can enter without parental consent.

Marital Status

Both individuals must be single and not in another civil partnership at registration.

Both people must willingly agree to the civil partnership without pressure or coercion, understanding its implications.

Relationship

Civil partners can't be closely related, like parents and children or siblings.

Mental Capacity

Both individuals must have the mental capacity to understand the nature of a civil partnership and the consequences of entering into one.

Why choose a civil partnership over marriage?

Deciding between a civil partnership and marriage is deeply personal and should reflect your and your partner's circumstances, beliefs, values, and preferences.

Regardless, opting for a civil partnership still grants you the same legal recognition, rights, and protections as a marriage. .

How do you register for a civil partnership in the UK?

Registering for a civil partnership in the UK is generally straightforward, but it's important to be sure you meet all legal requirements with your partner. Although procedures may differ slightly in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland due to varying legal systems, the general process is as follows:

Check Eligibility

First, ensure that you and your partner meet the eligibility criteria for entering into a civil partnership. 

Choose a Venue

Decide where you want to register your civil partnership. This can be at a local register office or any approved venue in your area.

Different rules may apply if you register your civil partnership in Scotland.

Give Notice

Give notice of your intent to form a civil partnership at your local register office.

This involves attending an appointment and providing certain documents, such as proof of identity, age, nationality, and marital status (such as a divorce decree if previously married). 

There is a fee for giving notice which is normally £35 per person, or £70 per couple.

This notice is publicly displayed at the register office for 28 days.

Wait for the Clearance Period

After giving notice, you must wait for 28 days in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, or 29 days in Scotland.

This waiting period allows for any objections to be made.

If there are no objections and all legal requirements are met, you will be given a 'civil partnership schedule' in Scotland or a 'civil partnership document.'

Sign the Civil Partnership Document

You and your partner must sign the civil partnership document in the presence of two witnesses and a registrar.

This can be done at a simple appointment or as part of a ceremony if you wish.

The location where this signing takes place must be the one you named when you gave notice.

Official Registration

Once the document is signed, your civil partnership is officially registered. Congratulations! 

You can then get a civil partnership certificate. This is a legal document that proves your relationship.

What are my rights in a civil partnership?

Entering into a civil partnership provides you and your partner with legal rights similar to marriage. These rights are designed to offer you both protection and security. 

Property and finances

In a civil partnership, both partners have legal rights concerning the family home, regardless of who is listed as the property owner on the title deeds. This includes protection from being forced to leave, and considerations regarding the division of property if the civil partnership is dissolved.

Additionally, civil partners are entitled to seek financial assistance from one another during the partnership and in the event of its dissolution. Such support may involve regular maintenance payments or lump sum orders, depending on the circumstances.

Inheritance rights

In the absence of a will, a civil partner has the legal right to inherit from their partner's estate according to the rules of intestacy.

They are also exempt from paying inheritance tax on any part of the estate they inherit from their civil partner.

Additionally, they hold entitlement to survivor pensions, allowing them to receive pension benefits upon the death of their partner, subject to the same conditions as married couples.

Tax

Civil partners enjoy identical tax allowances and relief as married couples, including income tax, capital gains tax, and potentially other tax advantages.

Civil partners are also entitled to equivalent employment benefits as spouses, such as maternity or paternity leave, parental leave, and bereavement leave. Additionally, civil partners can attain parental responsibility for their partner's child or children.

Is a civil partnership cheaper than getting married?

The expenses associated with a civil partnership versus marriage can vary based on things like the choice of venue, ceremony size, and additional services.

However, when considering the essential legal processes required to establish each relationship, the costs are generally comparable.

Both marriage and civil partnership necessitate giving notice at the local register office, typically costing £70 per couple. The difference in costs arises primarily from the ceremony. Initially designed as a civil arrangement, civil partnerships may not require a ceremony. So, if a couple opts out of a ceremony, the costs could be lower compared to a traditional wedding ceremony.

Since religious ceremonies are not permitted in civil partnerships, venue options include register offices or council-approved locations such as stately homes or hotels.

However, civil partnerships and marriages may incur additional expenses if celebrations like blessings, receptions, or parties are chosen.

Can I have a religious ceremony in a civil partnership?

When civil partnerships were introduced in the UK, religious elements were explicitly prohibited from the registration process, making it a strictly non-religious event.

While civil ceremonies allow for readings, songs, or music, they cannot incorporate religious components like hymns or readings from religious texts such as the Bible or the Torah. However, couples can opt for a religious blessing of their partnership following a civil ceremony.

Fortunately, recent legal adjustments have opened the possibility for civil ceremonies to occur in registered religious buildings. However, it's important to confirm with the venue that they can host a civil partnership ceremony before selecting them as your official venue.

Can a civil partnership be converted into a marriage?

If you are in an opposite-sex civil partnership, it's not possible to convert it into a marriage.

However, if you are in a same-sex civil partnership, you can convert it into a marriage.

To do this, you should contact your local register office or a religious or approved venue where same-sex marriages are conducted to express your intention to convert your civil partnership into a marriage.

There are some costs involved. You will have to pay:

  • £11 for a marriage certificate 

  • £45 to convert your civil partnership

  • £27 for an appointment, if you have a ceremony too.

Of course, as always, the cost of the ceremony will vary by venue. 

To proceed, you'll need to sign a 'conversion into marriage' declaration with a superintendent registrar at the register office, presenting your original civil partnership certificate and valid identification.

Once the declaration is signed (and any ceremony completed), the conversion is registered, and you'll receive a marriage certificate. This certificate replaces the civil partnership certificate, legally recognising you as married.

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What are the grounds for ending a civil partnership?

To dissolve your civil partnership, the primary requirement is that you've been in the partnership for over a year.

If you wish to remain in the civil partnership but live separately, you can get a legal separation, even in the first year of your civil partnership.

There are different processes to end a civil partnership in Scotland or Northern Ireland

You will also need to work out child arrangements and child maintenance payments (if applicable) and divide your money and property fairly

What is the process for ending a civil partnership?

Ending a civil partnership can take around 6 months. But may take longer depending on the circumstances.

You have the option of making a joint application if both parties agree or if neither of you is at risk of domestic abuse. However, if your partner does not consent to end the civil partnership or you have concerns about their cooperation, you can apply individually.

The application to end a civil partnership can be completed online or by post, with a fee of £593. You'll need to provide your civil partner's current address so the court can send them a copy of the application.

For postal applications, you'll need to fill in a dissolution application form and send it to the HMCTS Divorce and Dissolution Service at the specified address.

Following this, you'll apply for a conditional order, which is confirmation that the court sees no reason why the civil partnership can't be ended. You must then wait 20 weeks before applying for a conditional order. Subsequently, you'll apply for a final order, which officially terminates the civil partnership. You must wait 6 weeks after the conditional order date to apply for this, or 3 months and 6 weeks if your civil partner applied.

If you seek a legally binding arrangement for dividing assets and property, you must apply for this before the final order. Once you get the final order, your civil partnership is officially dissolved, allowing you to marry or enter into another civil partnership.

How does a civil partnership affect child custody rights?

When a civil partnership is entered into, both partners may have responsibilities and rights towards any children within the family. 

The biological parent of a child naturally has parental responsibility.

For civil partners, the non-biological parent can acquire parental responsibility through various means. This includes being named on the birth certificate (for children born after a specific date, varying by region), entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the other parent, or getting a parental responsibility order from the court.

Additionally, civil partners can jointly adopt a child, granting both partners equal parental responsibility. This legal recognition ensures both parents have the authority to participate in significant decisions concerning the child's upbringing, encompassing education, healthcare, and religion. Throughout the civil partnership, assuming the non-biological parent has gained parental responsibility, both parents share the rights and duties of raising the child.

In the event of the civil partnership ending, decisions regarding child custody, visitation rights, and child support must be made between the couple.

Are civil partnerships recognised outside the UK?

In some EU countries, civil partnerships are seen as equal to marriage. Typically, nations permitting same-sex marriages also recognize same-sex registered partnerships from other countries.

However, certain EU countries, including Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, do not offer civil partnerships.

In countries where civil partnerships are deemed equivalent to marriage, you and your partner would enjoy the same immigration rights if you decide to relocate abroad. Simply put, your partner would have the right to accompany you.

In countries where civil partnerships are deemed equivalent to marriage, you and your partner would enjoy the same immigration rights if you decide to relocate abroad. Simply put, your partner would have the right to accompany you.

Common misconceptions about civil partnerships

The most common misconceptions about civil partnerships include:

  • Civil partnerships are only for same-sex couples - since legal changes in 2019, civil partnerships are available for opposite and same-sex couples. 

  • You need to have a ceremony to form a civil partnership - you don’t. You can simply register the civil partnerships by signing the legal document at the register office, and that can be it! 

  • It is easier to end a civil partnership through dissolution, rather than divorcing - it isn’t. They are both very similar in time scales and cost. 

  • Civil partnerships give you no legal rights or protections - they do! You have the same legal rights as married couples. 

Get civil partnership support with Lawhive

At Lawhive, we will provide you with comprehensive support for all aspects of civil partnerships. Our network of experienced lawyers offers personalised advice tailored to your situation, whether you're considering entering into a civil partnership, need assistance with legal documentation, or are seeking guidance through the dissolution process. 

Get in touch today for a free case evaluation and quote.

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