Conversion of Civil Partnerships into Marriage
Brighton has seen the first ceremonies in the country for couples converting their Civil Partnerships into Marriage, following the legalisation of same-sex marriages in the, Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. As from the 10th December 2014 anyone in a Civil Partnership can convert it into Marriage.
There is little legal difference between a Marriage and a Civil Partnership, but debates about reform showed how powerful the cultural implications of marriage are. There was therefore a need to create an institution for same sex couples equal to the institution that exists for heterosexual couples. It is believed that the same sex marriage is likely to have greater acceptance in some countries overseas. Problems were experienced with the recognition of Civil Partnerships in some Countries, such as Spain, as those countries would only recognise an equivalent relationship to same-sex marriage and did not consider Civil Partnerships to be sufficient.
Section 9 (6) of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 provides that the Civil Partnership ends upon conversion but that the resulting Marriage is to be treated as having subsisted since the date the Civil Partnership was formed. Same-sex couples will still have the option to enter into a Civil Partnership, although it is not currently open to those couples in opposite sex relationships.
The Government has effectively waived fees for a year for simple conversions if the Civil Partnership was entered into before the same sex marriage was legalised on the 29th March 2014. A fee of only £45 will be applied for the first year if a ceremony is planned to take place in a Register Office.
Details of the process can be found at Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Conversion of Civil Partnership Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/3181)
Our Head of the Family Department, Richard Adams is a trustee of the Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard and regularly advises couples in same-sex relationships or those separating. If you are in a Civil Partnership or Same-Sex Marriage, or are thinking of entering into one, and would like advice as to the legal implications, please contact Richard or a member of the Family Department on 01903 229938 or 01903 229903.
The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice. Professional advice should always be taken on the application of the law in any particular situation.