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Civil partnerships

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005. This enabled same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship. Couples who form a civil partnership will have a new legal status, that of civil partner.

Civil partners will have equal treatment in a wide range of legal matters with married couples, including:

  • Tax, including inheritance tax
  • Employment Benefits
  • Most state and occupational pension benefits
  • Income related benefits, tax credits and child support
  • Duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partners and any children of the family
  • Ability to apply for parental responsibility for your civil partners child
  • Inheritance of a tenancy agreement
  • Recognition under intestacy rules
  • Access to fatal accidents compensation
  • Protection from domestic violence
  • Recognition from immigration and nationality purposes

With the introduction of civil partnerships there has been important changes affecting same-sex couples who claim income related benefits, regardless of whether the couple decide to form a civil partnership.

In order to form a civil partnership you must first give notice. You can give notice of your intention to form a civil partnership from 5 December 2005 and the earliest a civil partnership can be formed is 21 December 2005.  A civil partnership can be formed in England and Wales at a register office or an approved premise.

The General Register Office has information on the process and costs of forming a civil partnership.

The Department for Work and Pensions has published a leaflet containing information on how partnerships may affect your benefits.

The Woman and Equality Unit has published some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about civil partnerships.


Dissolution is the term used to describe the termination of a civil partnership. Dissolution is a procedure similar to divorce. To get a dissolution you must have been in a civil partnership for more than one year. You must complete a form called a Petition, giving the reasons why you are applying, to show your civil partnership is definitely over- i.e. that it has irretrievably broken down.

If there are children of the family you should also complete a form called a statement of arrangements in which you tell the court what plans you have made for the children once the dissolution is final.

Her Majesty's Court Service website has information about dissolution.

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