Homosexual couples can now officially marry, giving a same sex couple the option of either marriage or a civil partnership. However, heterosexual couples are not able to opt for a civil partnership.

The couple causing the spotlight to be turned to this topic were denied a civil partnership three years ago and have recently lost their appeal against this, despite arguing discrimination. The couple had opted not to get married because they felt that a civil partnership was a ‘more appropriate way to formalise the recognition of our relationship’.

The appeal ruling, however, was clear that a civil partnership is only available for same sex couples and as such the couple simply could not enter into one. However, the Judge went on to state that this could be a ‘breach of human rights’ and that the Government needs to consider changing the rules around civil partnerships.

What is the difference between Marriage and a Civil-Partnership?

According to GOV.uk there are many differences between a marriage and a civil partnership, from formation through to the dissolution.

One of the key differences is the fact that a marriage is solemnised by words – in saying ‘I do’ – whereas a civil partnership is solemnised by the signing of the partnership document.

Marriages are conducted through either a civil or religious ceremony; there is no requirement for a ceremony with a civil partnership.

An interesting difference is that a marriage certificate shows only the father of each party, while a civil partnership certificate requires both parents’ names.

Annulling a marriage and a civil partnership involves a similar process. A divorce is granted by obtaining a decree absolute and the civil partnership equivalent is a dissolution agreement. Almost identical conditions apply, apart from one variation. If adultery is committed and the partner finds it intolerable to live with the other then this is sufficient to obtain a decree absolute to end a marriage. However, this does not give grounds for a dissolution agreement under a civil partnership.