Civil partnerships

Civil partnerships in UK divorce law are to all intents and purposes treated as marriages when it comes to dissolving them. Although this web site refers almost exclusively to divorce in England and to the rights of a divorcing couple in respect of finances, custody of children, wills etc it should not be forgotten that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5th December 2005.

The rights of civil partners are essentially the same as married couples. In the event that a civil partner seeks the dissolution of the partnership then the rights of each former partner are analogous to the rights of an ex spouse. In order to bring the civil partnership to an end it needs to be dissolved by a court just like a marriage and any dispute about the financial issues arising from the dissolution of the partnership are dealt with in financial proceedings just as in the case of divorce. The procedure for the dissolution of a marriage and of a civil partnership is effectively the same as is the process by which any financial issues or issues about children arising from the dissolution are settled.

There is therefore now a separate legal regime for civil partners in UK divorce law which is essentially the same as that which applies to a married couple.

Just as marriages contracted outside the UK may be recognised here so may certain unions entered into outside the UK be recognised in England as civil partnerships here. The list of countries which allow legal unions between same sex couples and where those unions will be recognised in the UK is set out in Schedule 20 to the Act.

Rather than refer to ‘spouse or civil partner’ throughout this website we have referred to ‘spouse’ or ‘ex spouse’ but is should be remembered that since 5th December 2005 the term ‘spouse’ may also usually be taken to include ‘civil partner’ within the context of this site and UK divorce laws.


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