Heterosexual couple win civil partnership case
Just over 3 years ago, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan attempted to register a Civil Partnership in their local Registry Office. Having been involved in a long-settled relationship since 2011, with 2 young dependant children, they wished to enter into a Civil Partnership to “cement our commitment and strengthen the security of our family”.
Their request was refused and they were told they couldn’t form a Civil Partnership because they were not the same sex.
For Rebecca and Charles, marriage was not felt to be an option. They felt the legacy of marriage was one which ‘treated women as property for centuries.’
‘We want to raise our children as equal partners and feel that a Civil Partnership- a modern symmetrical institution- sets the best example for them,’ they explained.
Rebecca and Charles felt the refusal was unfair and discriminatory. After a legal battle lasting over 3 years, the Supreme Court have now unanimously agreed with them. In a landmark judgment, they have ruled that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 which currently only applies same-sex couples is unfair.
So what is a Civil Partnership & how does it differ from marriage?
Unlike marriage, a Civil Partnership has no religious connotations. Crucially, it confers the same legal treatment in terms of tax, inheritance, pensions and next of kin arrangements as marriage. In addition, it provides legal and financial protection in the event of the relationship ending.
Since March 2014, same sex couples have a choice of whether they wish to enter into a Civil Partnership or to marry; a choice not currently available to mixed sex couples. The Supreme Court have agreed the law to be discriminatory & that the difference cannot be justified.
So what now?
Time will tell. Whilst the judgement does not oblige a change in the law, the pressure is now on for the government to respond to extend Civil Partnerships to all.
Currently, with over 3 million cohabitees having little or no legal protection, this landmark judgement offers an opportunity for Civil Partnerships to be extended which in turn will automatically provide similar protections that marriage does.
Partner @ Evans Derry Solicitors
Collaborative Family Lawyer & Family Mediator.
Photo: From The Times