How can a civil partnership be converted into
The details of the process
is provided in the Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Conversion of Civil
Partnership Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/3181
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.
If you are living overseas
The Regulations also provide
for the conversion of civil partnerships to same sex marriage in a number of
embassies and consulates overseas – presently Australia, Germany, Japan, Philippines, Russia,
Serbia and Vietnam
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).