From 10 December 2014 it will be possible to convert civil partnerships into marriage.
Meta Title :From civil partnership to marriage
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Dec 9, 2014, 11:05 AM
Article ID :107929
From 10 December 2014 it
will be possible to convert civil partnerships into marriage.
The year 2014 already
represents a landmark for same-sex couples. In March, the first same-sex
marriages were celebrated in England and Wales and those from overseas were
recognised also. However, before the year closes there will be further
developments as from 10 December 2014, it will be possible to convert Civil
Partnerships into same sex marriages and north of the border same sex marriages
will be celebrated from Hogmanay onwards.
What is the difference between civil partnership and
As civil partnerships
effectively provide all the rights and responsibilities of marriage that it is
in the power of governments to give, there is little legal difference. However,
the debates about reform disclosed how powerful the cultural connotations of
marriage are. Ultimately it was also decided that it was insufficient to create
an institution that was separate but equal. Additionally, problems were
experienced with the recognition of civil partnerships in countries such as
Spain because they were poorly understood. On that basis, same-sex marriage is
likely to have greater currency overseas.
How many people will this effect?
The latest statistics are
not available but the ONS
estimate that in the first 7 years since legalisation (ie until the end
of December 2012), over 60,000 civil partnerships were registered. Dissolutions
are uncommon (at present).
It is possible that many
couples will feel attached to civil partnership and will not want to change the
status of their relationships.
After a consultation, the
in June 2014 that it proposed to retain Civil Partnership as a separate status
for those who would prefer it. In many Nordic countries and the US states, they
were just converted into marriages by statute.
What is involved?
The parties will make a
Conversion declaration in the following terms:
'I solemnly and
sincerely declare that we are in a civil partnership with each other and I know
of no legal reason why we may not convert our civil partnership into a
marriage. I understand that on signing this document we will be converting our
civil partnership into a marriage and you will thereby become my lawful wife [or
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.
How can a civil partnership be converted into
As a result of a pressure by
backbenchers and a petition by 40,000, the government
has provided couples with choices. If the couple want, the conversion can be effected
in one visit to the superintendent registrar by providing the requisite
information and signing a declaration that they are in a civil partnership with
each other and wish to convert it into a marriage.
Alternatively, the couple may go to a superintendent registrar with the
required evidence and complete the conversion by signing the declaration in
another place - where a ceremony may be held. That may include religious
premises with all the well-known caveats.
Special arrangements are also provided if the couple cannot travel to a
register office because one of them is housebound, detained or seriously ill
and not expected to recover.
Taking account of the fact
that many couples might have chosen to enter into a marriage in the first place
if that had been available, the government has effectively waived fees for a
year for simple conversions if the civil partnership was entered into before
same-sex marriage was legalised (on 29 March 2014). If a ceremony is planned in
a Register Office then a fee of only £45 will be applied for the first
Scotland & Northern Ireland
Scotland introduces same-sex
marriage on 16 December 2014. With the 14-day notice period, the intention is
that the first wedding ceremonies can take place on Hogmanay 2014. Given a bit
more time to consider the matter, the Scottish Government has arranged that
civil partnerships can be converted into marriages as of the same date. This
can be done administratively or by going through with a wedding ceremony – which
again could take place as early as 31 December.
The Stormont Assembly voted
against introducing same-sex marriage in the province.
If you are from overseas or Northern Ireland
Unlike civil partnership,
for marriage, the dual domicile rule applies, ie both parties to a marriage
should be of a domicile in which their marriage would be lawful. It is likely
that there is an exception if one of the couple is domiciled in England and
The practical implications
of this is that if Sinead and Graine obtained a Civil Partnership in Derry but
now live in London their civil partnership is valid here. However, if they were
to convert this into marriage, this may not be lawful. The same would apply to
Rolph from Germany and Anselm from Italy.
In these situations, the
couples really should obtain legal advice but they may be better advised to
retain their civil partnership.
A relationship registered
overseas that is treated as a civil partnership in the UK (by virtue of CPA
2004, Sch 20) cannot be converted into a marriage.
You must have been living in
the country for 28 days and the civil partnerships in question must have been
created by the law of England and Wales or Scotland (ie not Northern
Martin Downs is the co-author of Same Sex Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Family Law, 2014).