Until the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, couples of the same sex were able to enter into a civil partnership, but not legally marry. The Act came into force in 2014 to allow marriage for same sex couples. At this time civil partnerships remain exclusively for couples of the same sex.
Over the past two years, one heterosexual couple have taken a stance on this matter; standing against the institution of marriage but wishing to cement their intended lifelong partnership by other means.
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan argue that the government’s current stance on civil partnerships is at odds with equality law and that long term and committed couples should still have the right to the same financial and legal protection as married couples if they aren’t comfortable with the idea of marriage.
The couple said “Throughout our campaign, we have met hundreds of couples like us who love each other and want a civil partnership so they can celebrate their commitment and strengthen the security of their family unit.”
Their case was heard by the High Court in early 2016 but the couple lost. In February 2017, the couple were defeated again in the Court of Appeal, however, in August 2017 they were granted the right to take their case to the Supreme Court where it was ruled this week that not allowing the couple to enter into a civil partnership was ‘incompatible’ with the human rights laws surrounding the right to a private family life.
Lord Kerr, when delivering his Judgment, stated that “the difference cannot be justified” in the treatment of same and opposite sex couples.
This ruling, while progressive for the couple, does not automatically result in a change in the law and at this time civil partnerships, in general, remain available to those in same sex couples only. The government have stated that they require more time in order to confidently make a decision about future civil partnerships.
If you have any queries relating to pre-nuptial agreements prior to entering into a marriage or civil partnership, or the breakdown of one, please contact one of our solicitors who will be happy to assist.
All information is correct on the date of posting.