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Encyclopedia > Civil unions in the United Kingdom
Civil union
Recognised nationwide in:
Denmark (1989)
Norway (1993)
Sweden (1995)
Greenland (1996)
Hungary (1996)
Iceland (1996)
Netherlands1 (1998)
France (1999)
South Africa (1999)
Belgium1 (2000)
Canada1 (QC and NS)2 (2000)
Germany (2001)
Portugal (2001)
Finland (2002)
Croatia (2003)
Israel (2004)
Luxembourg (2004)
New Zealand (2005)
United Kingdom (2005)
Andorra (2005)
Slovenia (2006)
Switzerland
(Approved 2005; Expected implemented 2007)
Recognised in some regions in:
Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro) (2003)
Australia (Tasmania) (2004)
Spain (11 autonomous communities)1 (1998)
Italy (Tuscany, Umbria, Emilia-Romagna) (2004)
Brazil (Rio Grande de Sul) (2004)
United States: CU: VT (2000) , CT (2005), OR (2005); DP: HI (1997), CA (1999), DC (2002), ME (2004), NJ (2004)
Other countries:
Liechtenstein
Austria
Czech Republic
Greece
Ireland
Poland
Notes:
1 - Country subsequently legalized same-sex marriage.
2 - Explicitly referred to as "civil unions" in Quebec (2002), Nova Scotia (2001), and Manitoba (2002), common-law marriage extended to same-sex partners nationwide (2000).
See also
same-sex marriage
registered partnership
domestic partnership
listings by country

There are currently no plans to introduce same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom. However, a bill to introduce civil partnerships virtually identical to marriage was announced in the 2003 Queen's Speech and introduced into Parliament. On November 17, 2004 the bill was passed by the House of Lords, its final legislative hurdle, and received Royal Assent on November 18 to become the Civil Partnership Act 2004. A civil union is one of several terms for a civil status similar to marriage, typically created for the purposes of allowing same-sex couples access to the benefits enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples (see also same-sex marriage); it can also be used by opposite-sex couples who... In Argentina, Buenos Aires City and Rio Negro Province (both in 2003) offer Civil unions. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Same-sex marriage in Australia. ... Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities, 11 of which recognize civil unions. ... Beginning July 2004 some Italian regions recognized coppie di fatto, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, giving them legal benefits. ... The Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul legalizated civil unions after a court decision in March 2004. ... Overview Civil unions in Vermont are legal unions of same-sex couples in accordance with a law that went into effect in 2000. ... The Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill to adopt civil unions in Connecticut, ensuring that same-sex couples get the same civil rights as heterosexual couples. ... Oregon state senators passed legislation (July 8 2005) to allow same-sex civil unions. ... Hawaii state recognize Reciprocal Beneficiaries since 1997. ... Example of California domestic partnership certificate. ... The District of Columbia has recognised civil unions since 2002. ... Overview Domestic partnerships in Maine are a legal unions created by P.L. 2003, c. ... New Jersey offer Domestic partnership for same-sex couples and opposite-sex partners over 62 since 2004. ... Same-sex marriage is marriage between individuals who are of the same legal or biological sex. ... Civil unions in Quebec: Pursuant to a range of activism and to the M. v. ... Common-law marriage (or common law marriage), sometimes referred to as informal marriage, is a form of interpersonal status in which a man and a woman are legally married. ... Same-sex marriage is marriage between individuals who are of the same legal or biological sex. ... See also: Civil Union Volker Beck, a member of the Green party caucus of the Bundestag, is the father of the German law. ... Domestic partner or domestic partnership identifies the personal relationship between individuals who are living together and sharing a common domestic life together but are not joined in any type of legal partnership, marriage or civil union. ... Same-sex marriage is marriage between individuals who are of the same legal or biological sex. ... A civil union is one of several terms for a civil status similar to marriage, typically created for the purposes of allowing same-sex couples access to the benefits enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples (see also same-sex marriage); it can also be used by opposite-sex couples who... 2003 (MMIII) is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Sergeant-at-arms Gus Cloutier holding the ceremonial mace to open a sitting of the 38th Canadian parliament with Prime Minister Paul Martin in background (10/4/04) In the United Kingdom, the State Opening of Parliament is an annual event held usually in October or November that marks the... The Houses of Parliament, seen over Westminster Bridge The σParliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative institution in the United Kingdom and British overseas territories (it alone has parliamentary sovereignty). ... 17 November is also the name of a Marxist group in Greece. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the British House of Lords. ... The granting of Royal Assent is the formal method by which the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, or the Sovereigns representative in Commonwealth Realms, completes the process of the enactment of legislation by formally assenting to an Act of Parliament. ... November 18 is the 322nd day of the year (323rd in leap years), with 43 remaining. ... The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is an Act of Parliament passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 2004. ...


The first Civil Partnership Ceremony to take place in the UK is thought to have taken place at 11:00 GMT 5 December 2005 between Matthew Roche and Christopher Clamp at St Barnabas Hospice, Worthing, West Sussex. The usual 14 day waiting period was waived as Roche was suffering from a terminal illness. He died the next day.[1] Before this, the ceremony was expected be held on Tuesday 20 December 2005, in Edinburgh, Scotland between John Maguire-Hall and Laurence Scott Mackay. To mark the historic nature of the event, Edinburgh Castle will be the main arena for the celebrations. December 5 is the 339th day (340th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Map sources for Worthing at grid reference TQ1303 Worthing is the largest town and a local government district in West Sussex, England. ... West Sussex is a county in the south of England, bordering onto East Sussex (with Brighton and Hove), Hampshire and Surrey. ... December 20 is the 354th day of the year (355th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Civil partnerships are available only to same-sex couples. Couples may register their partnership without being required to live together for a minimum length of time, and there is a formal process for dissolving partnerships. Partnerships will entitle same-sex couples to "a range of property rights, the same exemption as married couples on inheritance tax, social security and pension benefits, and also the ability to get parental responsibility for a partner's children" (BBC), as well as responsibility for reasonable maintenance of one's partner and their children, tenancy rights, full life insurance recognition, and visiting rights in hospitals. It has been suggested that Life assurance be merged into this article or section. ...

Contents


Law and procedure under the Civil Partnership Act

A civil partnership is a relationship between two people of the same sex, formed when they register as civil partners of each other, which ends only on death, dissolution, or annulment.


Formation

Registration

A civil partnership is formed when each partner has signed the civil partnership document in the presence of a civil partnership registrar and in the presence of each other and two witnesses. There is to be no religious service during the registration and the registration must not take place in any premises that are either designed for or are in use mainly or solely for religious purposes.


Some gay affirming Christians protested this point, claiming that same-sex couples should have the same right to manifest their religion in the creation of their civil status as a mixed-sex couple have, if they so choose. The Metropolitan Community Church of Edinburgh lodged a petition before the Scottish Parliament (which was at that time considering a Sewel Motion in respect of the Civil Partnerships Bill) seeking the right to create civil partnerships in Church and gave oral evidence to the Public Petitions Committee claiming that the Bill as drafted was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Church was unsuccessful in its campaign. The Metropolitan Community Church of Edinburgh (officially Holy Trinity Metropolitan Community Church but this name is rarely used nowadays) is a church in Edinburgh, Scotland. ... The Scottish Parliament (Pàrlamaid na h-Alba in Gaelic, Scots Pairlament in Scots) is the national unicameral legislature of Scotland. ... A Sewel motion is a motion passed by the Scottish Parliament, in which it requests the Parliament of the United Kingdom, or Westminster to pass legislation on a topic extending to Scotland. ... A church building (or simply church) is a building used in Christian worship. ... The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, also known as the European Convention on Human Rights, was adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe in 1950 to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. ...


Before registration under the standard procedure, each party will usually have to give notice to the registration authority. Each party must have resided in England or Wales for at least seven days immediately preceding the giving of notice and there will, in most cases, be a 15-day waiting period after notice is given. During the waiting period, the proposed partnership will be publicised and anyone may make a formal objection to the proposed civil partnership. If there is such an objection, the proposed civil partnership cannot be formed unless the objection is withdrawn or if the registration authority is satisfied that the objection ought not to prevent the formation of the civil partnership. Provided no objection has been recorded or any recorded objections have been cleared, the registration authority must issue a civil partnership schedule at the request of either party upon the expiration of the waiting period. The civil partnership must then be registered within 12 months of when the notice was first given.


There are also specific registration procedures that apply to particular circumstances. Thus, clause 18 applies to persons who are house-bound while clause 19 applies to detained persons. A specific procedure also applies where one party to the proposed civil partnership is non-resident. The special procedure under clause 21 of the Act provides for persons who are seriously ill and are not expected to recover.


Eligibility

Each party to the civil partnership must be of the same sex and be at least 16 years old. Anyone below 18 years old will usually need parental consent except in Scotland where parental consent isn't needed for marriages either. In addition, the parties to the proposed partnership must not be within the prohibited degrees of relationship specified in part 1 of schedule 1 of the Act. Any party who is already in a marriage or a civil partnership is also ineligible to register.


Legal effect

Property and financial arrangements

In any dispute between civil partners as to title or possession of property, either partner may apply to the court. The court may then make any order in relation to the property as it thinks fit, including an order to sell the property. Contributions by either partner to property improvement are recognised if the contributions are substantial and in money or money's worth.


The position of civil partners in relation to financial arrangements will largely mirror that of spouses. For instance, Section 11 of the Married Women's Property Act 1882 will apply to civil partnerships. Thus, money payable to a partner under a policy of assurance effected by the other partner for his/her own life will no longer form part of the deceased partner's estate.


The laws governing wills, administration of estates and family provisions will also largely apply to civil partners as they would to spouses. Thus, provisions governing financial relief under Part 2 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA) and the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates' Court Act 1978 will also apply to civil partnerships.


Tax exemptions available to spouses under s.18 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 will be available to civil partners under the Civil Partnership Act.


Children

When the court is dealing with an application for dissolution, nullity or separation and there is a child of the family, it must consider if it should exercise its powers under the Children Act 1989. Clause 72 amends the definition of 'a child of the family' accordingly.


Other amendments were also made to equalize the position of civil partners with spouses. Thus civil partners will be able to acquire parental responsibilities as a step-parent under clause 72 of the Act. Civil partners will also be able to apply for residence or contact orders. Further, the rights to apply for financial provision for children under schedule 1 of the 1989 act is also extended to civil partners. Adoption provisions will also be amended so that civil partners will be treated in the same way as married couples.


Other provisions

Other areas of the law will also be amended by the Act in order to equalize the position of civil partners. Such areas include certain parts of the law relating to housing and tenancies and the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. Certain parts of the Family Law Act 1996 have also been amended.


Ending the partnership

Clause 37(1) of the Act provides for the making of dissolution, nullity, separation and presumption of death orders. These provisions broadly mirror those governing marriage.


Under clause 37(2) of the Act, every dissolution, nullity and presumption of death order is initially conditional and that conditional order may not be made final until the end of a prescribed period of 6 weeks. At any time before a conditional order has been made final, the Queen's Proctor may, under certain circumstances, intervene. This will allow relevant matters to be argued fully before the court.


After the prescribed period has passed, the court may then either make the conditional order final, rescind the conditional order, require that there be further enquiry or otherwise deal with the case as the court thinks fit.


For dissolution and separation orders, the court may adjourn proceedings for any period that the court thinks fit if the court considers there to be a reasonable possibility of reconciliation between the parties.


Dissolution

No applications for dissolution may be made within 1 year of the formation of the civil partnership. Like marriage, irretrievable breakdown is the only ground on which a court may make a dissolution order. Also, clause 44 provides that the court may not make a dissolution order unless the applicant satisfies the court as to certain facts. These facts are similar to those under the MCA. Adultery is, however, not included in the Civil Partnership Act. If the applicant satisfies the court as to any of the facts, the court must make a dissolution order unless satisfied on all the evidence that the partnership has not broken down irretrievably. The MCA section 5 defence is also available here.


Nullity, separation and presumption of death orders

A nullity order is an order which annuls a void or voidable civil partnership. Clause 49 of the Act provides that a civil partnership is void on grounds of ineligibility to register, if the parties disregarded certain requirements as to the formation of the partnership, or in the case where any party is a child, if the person whose consent is required has forbidden the formation of the partnership and the court has not given its consent.


According to clause 50 of the CPB, a civil partnership is voidable if any of the following is shown:

  • there was no valid consent to its formation;
  • at the time of its formation, either party was unfit for civil partnership due to mental disorder;
  • applicant was pregnant by someone other than the respondent at the time of its formation;
  • either party has been issued with an interim gender recognition certificate after the time of its formation;
  • either party has acquired a new gender under the law at the time of its formation.

Where a civil partnership is voidable, applications for nullity orders are subject to the bars of time, knowledge of defect and approbation. A presumption of death order dissolves the partnership on the grounds that one of the partners is presumed to be dead, while a separation order provides for the separation of the parties. These orders are governed by clauses 55 and 56 of the Act and they largely mirror the position for married couples.


Gender Recognition Act

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows transsexual people to change their legal gender, but before doing so they have to dissove any existing marriage, since marriage is legally defined as being between persons of opposite gender. This can have serious consequences for a married couple who wish to stay together after one or the other has changed gender. However under special provisions of the Civil Partnership Act they will be able from December to dissolve their marriage, and enter a civil partnership the next day. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 is an Act of Parliament of the British Parliament which allows transsexual people to change their legal gender. ... A transsexual (sometimes transexual) person establishes a permanent identity with the opposite gender to their assigned (usually at birth) sex. ...


Start date

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005. Because of the 15-day waiting period, the first Civil Partnership registrations will therefore be on 21 December in England and Wales. However because of confusion over the meaning of the waiting period, the first registrations in Scotland will be on 20 December. Moreover because of the provisions to waive the waiting period in cases where one of the partners is in imminent danger of death, it is possible that some registrations could take place as early as 5 December. December 5 is the 339th day (340th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... December 21 is the 355th day of the year (356th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... December 20 is the 354th day of the year (355th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


See also

Legal consequences of marriage in the United Kingdom This is a list of legal consequences of marriage in the United Kingdom, as of 2004. ...


External links

  • Full text of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, HMSO
  • UK Gay Unions Bill Passes Final Hurdle, 365gay.com
  • Gay couples to get joint rights, BBC

  Results from FactBites:
 
Civil union - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2576 words)
Unions that may be similar to or synonymous with civil unions include civil partnerships, registered partnerships, domestic partnerships, significant relationships, and reciprocal beneficiary relationships.
Civil unions were introduced in Denmark by law on June 7, 1989, the world's first such law.
The controversial civil unions law [11] enacted in Vermont in 2000 was passed as a response to the Vermont Supreme Court ruling in Baker v.
Civil partnerships in the United Kingdom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2146 words)
Civil Partners are entitled to the same property rights as civilly married heterosexual couples, the same exemption as married couples on inheritance tax, social security and pension benefits, and also the ability to get parental responsibility for a partner's children,
Civil partners of male peers or knights do not receive a courtesy title to which a peer's or knight's wife would be entitled.
The first civil partnerships in England and Wales were formed on 21 December 2005, with Westminster, Hampshire, Hammersmith and Fulham and Brighton and Hove conducting the largest numbers.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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