Skip to main content

Would you choose a Civil Partnership?

Would you choose a Civil Partnership?

For the first time in Scotland, mixed sex couples will have the opportunity to enter civil partnerships. The Civil Partnership Act 2004, which came into force in December 2005, allowed same sex couples to enjoy similar rights and responsibilities to those of a mixed sex married couple. Until now, civil partnerships have only been available to same sex couples. However, with the enactment of The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020, from today (1 June 2021) it will be possible for mixed sex couples to submit a notice of intention to enter into a civil partnership. The new Act has been applauded as enshrining the principles of equality and freedom of choice for all couples in Scots law, giving mixed sex couples the option to choose between civil partnership and marriage

Why has the Law changed?

In 2018 English couple, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan won a landmark legal battle for the right to form a civil partnership as a mixed sex couple. The UK Supreme Court ruled that the legal position barring mixed sex couples from entering a civil partnership was discriminatory and breached their right to a family and private life. The introduction of The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020 has come as a direct result of the ruling by the Supreme Court in 2018, and will align Scots law with the European Convention on Human Rights. In England and Wales, civil partnerships for mixed sex couples have been legal since 31 December 2019.

Traditional weddings aren't for everyone.

Clearly, marriage is not for everyone. Steinfeld and Keidan opposed traditional marriage on the grounds the institution was rooted in religious and patriarchal ideals that did not represent their relationship. Formalising a relationship and making lifelong commitments are important steps for any couple; this legal change signals a move towards modern alternatives to marriage for individuals who feel that marriage is not for them.

In England and Wales, the government estimated that the introduction of mixed sex civil partnerships would encourage around 84,000 couples to form civil partnerships. Obviously, with the Covid-19 pandemic, many couples had to put their ceremonies on hold, however, with lockdown restrictions easing, it is expected that more and more couples will choose civil partnership instead of marriage in the coming years. Some commentators have observed that cohabiting couples in Scotland, who otherwise would not have chosen to enter a marriage, may now choose to formalise their relationship as civil partners; obtaining the legal rights available in marriage without the husband/wife labels.

What are the differences between Civil Partnerships and Marriages.

There are not really any significant differences; civil partners have the same rights and responsibilities as if they were married. Civil partners have the same rights on the division of assets upon dissolution and the same succession rights as married couples, with the exception of certain pension privileges.

If you are considering making a commitment to your significant other in the near future, you may wish to think about the option to form a civil partnership. Call Thorntons on 03330 430150 for a chat or contact us to book an appointment, we would be happy to talk to you about whether marriage or a civil partnership is right for you. 

About the author

Sandra Sutherland
Sandra Sutherland

Sandra Sutherland



For more information, contact Sandra Sutherland or any member of the Family team on +44 1241 436002.