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Civil partnerships for all

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A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship between two people. 

At present, the law in England and Wales permits same-sex couples to marry (same-sex marriage was legalised in 2014 with the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013) or enter a civil partnership  (legalised by the Civil Partnership Act 2004) but only allows mixed-sex couples to marry. 

The Supreme Court has now determined that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.  As such, Theresa May has announced that mixed-sex couples are now going to be allowed to have civil partnerships.

The proposed change comes after the Supreme Court, in June, ruled in favour of Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, who wanted to be allowed to have a civil partnership.  They, like many others, felt that marriage did not fit with their ideologies.  Unlike marriage, civil partnership has no historical connection to religion or the church.  For some, the fact that marriage is steeped in patriarchal tradition (with the woman being “offered up” or “given away” to the man and for her to thereafter “obey” him) is offensive and does not sit comfortably with the idea and desire for both parties to a legal union to be recognised as entering it willingly and equally.

The process of entering into a civil partnership is straightforward; with no need to exchange vows and the union becoming valid after both parties simply sign the civil partnership document.

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Common law marriage is a myth

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'Cohabiting couples need basic legal protections’ A coalition of legal organisations has written to The Guardian (September 2018) urging the government 'to take steps to bring forward, as a minimum, basic protections for cohabiting couples.'

The organisations note that marriage numbers are declining. Currently, one in eight adults in England and Wales are cohabiting, a trend steadily increasing since 2002.

However, a recent survey showed as many as two in three cohabiting couples were unaware that there is no such thing as "common law marriage" in England and Wales.

As such, parties who end a cohabiting relationship; whether of short or long duration, do not have the right to bring legal claims against the other for a fair share of the capital or pensions held in the sole name of the other and nor are they entitled to receive monthly maintenance from their wealthier partner.

The letter to the Guardian states:

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