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Entering into a civil partnership

Entering into a civil partnership

Civil partnerships enable couples to get legal recognition of their relationship without having to get married. They originally applied only to same-sex couples, but have since been extended to opposite-sex couples in England & Wales (December 2019), Northern Ireland (January 2020) and Scotland (June 2021).

Civil partners have equal treatment to married couples in a wide range of legal matters, including:

  • Tax, including Inheritance Tax
  • Employment benefits
  • Most state and occupational pension benefits
  • Income-related benefits, tax credits and child support
  • Duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner and any children of the family
  • Ability to apply for parental responsibility for your civil partner's child (England and Wales only)
  • Inheritance of a tenancy agreement
  • Recognition under intestacy rules
  • Access to damages or compensation
  • Protection from domestic violence
  • Recognition for immigration and nationality purposes

Minimum age for entering into a civil partnership

The minimum age at which you can enter into a civil partnership varies, depending on where you live:

  • In England and Wales, you cannot enter into a valid civil partnership unless you're both at least 18 years old.
  • In Northern Ireland, you must both be over the age of 16 to enter into a civil partnership. If you're under the age of 18, you must have parental consent. However, if either of you is under the age of 18 and domiciled in England or Wales when you enter into a civil partnership, it will be void. Also, if you convert your marriage into a civil partnership in Northern Ireland, that conversion will be void if either of you were under the age of 18 and domiciled in England or Wales at the time of your marriage.
  • In Scotland, you can enter into a civil partnership from the age of 16, with or without parental consent. However, if either of you is under the age of 18 and domiciled in England or Wales when you enter into a civil partnership, it will be void.

Considerations before entering into a civil partnership

There are many things to consider before entering into a civil partnership, such as:

In this section of the law guide, we explore all of these issues relating to entering into a civil partnership. Click on the links on the left hand side of the page to find out more information on all of these topics relating to your civil partnership.

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The Desktop Lawyer law guide aims to present the law to you in a comprehensive yet jargon-free and easy-to-read format. Our law guide is constantly kept up to date with changes in business and family law by our team of in house solicitors, and includes information across all the legal jurisdictions in the UK.

Our law guide is free to use. Where we provide documents related to this area of law, or where they may help you with any legal issue in this area, they will be listed to the right of this message.

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