In order to from a civil partnership in the UK you must both:
- Not already be in a civil partnership or marriage.
- Be 16 or older.
- Not be within the prohibited degrees of relationship (see below)
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, individuals who are aged 16 and 17 will have to obtain the written consent of their of their parent(s) before they form a civil partnership.
In Scotland individuals aged over 16 or over will be able to register there partnership without the consent; this is also the rule for opposite sex couple’s who marry.
The prohibited degrees of relationship can be found in schedule 1 to the civil partnership act for England and Wales, schedule 12 for Northern Ireland.These schedules list the people who, due to closeness of their relationship with each other are prohibited from forming a civil partnership with each other unless certain condtions are met.
It is also important that you meet the legal requirements when registering your civil partnership
There is no requirement within the civil partnership act for the registrar to carry out anything other than the legal formalities required for the schedule, indeed when the act first came into force many registrars would not offer any type of service. However, weddings are lucrative and it didn’t take long for registrars to realise that if they didn’t offer a ceremony to those couples wanting one, that they would simply go to the neighbouring county.
Legal Declaration – which must be read, repeated or acknowledged by each partner:
“I declare that I know of no legal reason why we may not register as each other’s civil partner. I understand that on signing this document we will be forming a civil partnership with each other”.
If you opt for a ceremony you may wish to personalise it by including some pledges of commitment and promises.
See the suggestions below.
- I promise that I will respect you as an individual, support you through difficult times, rejoice with you through happy times, be loyal to you always, and above all love you as my partner and friend.
- I promise to care for you above all others, to give you my love and friendship, support and comfort, and to respect and cherish you throughout our lives together.
- I promise to love you in good times and in bad, to cherish and care for you, and to live with you in love and harmony whatever the future might bring.
- I promise to love you above all others, to respect and cherish you throughout our life together.
- I will seek to build a strong, loving relationship based on kindness, understanding and trust that are already part of us both and I promise to share my life with you as an equal partner, and to ensure that our love and friendship continue to grow.
- I promise that I will honour and respect you. That I will love and care for you through good fortune and adversity, and live with you in love and happiness for the rest of our life together.
- I give you this ring/gift as a symbol of our love, and a token of our trust and commitment. Wear it with joy, now and forever.
- I give you this ring/gift as a sign of our friendship and trust, wear it with happiness and pride now and always.
- I give you this ring/gift as a token of our love and affection, wear it in love and harmony throughout our future life together.
- I give you this ring/gift as a token of my love and trust, as a symbol of all we share and in recognition of all our hopes and dreams as we enter our new life together.
- I place this ring/gift upon your finger as acknowledgement of the love and commitment that I make to you this day in front of our family and friends. Wear it as a sign of the love we both share.
Your civil partnership must take place either in a register office or in a venue specially licensed to carry out civil partnerships.
Unlike heterosexual weddings, there is no requirement for both you and your partner to sign the schedule at the same time, so as long as each of the signatures are correctly witnessed the wedding can take place without you seeing each other!
You will have the opportunity to say a set form of words before you sign the schedule. In addition, you may want to write your own vows or include a reading, poem or some music. This must be agreed by your registrar, and cannot include any religious content.
Of course etiquette varies slightly from a civil partnership ceremony to that of a traditional church wedding. However, there is no reason why you and your partner shouldn’t take the opportunity to embrace your special day and do things the way you want to.
- Choose a best man/woman or attendants in the same way as a traditional wedding.
- Give one another wedding rings as a sign of your love and commitment.
- Walk down the aisle together to be received at the commitment table.
Many same sex couples prefer to opt for a smaller commitment or civil ceremony followed by a wedding breakfast for direct family. The evening reception is often a much larger affair with a disco or live music with lots of fun and frolics! Of course you could go down the Elton John/David Furnish route and employ a team of co-ordinators, caterers and entertainers if your budget allows.
Whilst some registry offices will only offer a very basic civil ceremony service, some offices are keen to allow couples to go overboard with their celebrations. Why not incorporate a reading into your ceremony or have some of your favourite music played.
You must have a minimum of two witnesses to witness the registration and sign the civil partnership schedule. There is no particular requirements as to who the witnesses might be.
Same sex couple’s entering into a civil partnership will have a legal status -that of a “civil partner” in a wide range of legal matters they will be treated in the same way as couple’s who marry.
The rights and responsibilities you can expect to enjoy are:
- A duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner and any children of the family.
- The ability to apply for parental responsibility for your civil partner’s child.
- Equitable treatment for the purposes of assessment for child support, life insurance, tax ( including inheritance tax), employment and pension benefit, inheritance of a tenancy agreement.
- Recognition under intestacy rules.
- Access to fatal accidents compensation.
- Protection from domestic violence.
- Recognition for immigration and nationality purposes.