Calls for Government to deliver promise on civil partnerships for heterosexual couples

Campaigners who successfully fought for the Government to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples are calling on the Government to deliver on its promise to act.

Last October, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would extend the right to enter a civil partnership, which gives legal rights to each partner, to all couples.

That announcement came following a campaign to change the rules after a Supreme Court ruling found that it was discriminatory to restrict these to same-sex couples and that it breached people’s human rights.

Joanna Christina and Stephen Anderson who campaigned towards changing the law for heterosexual couples believe that marriage is outdated and not for them and are calling on the government to act quickly to help people confused about the laws on cohabiting.

The couple said: “While on the one hand, I appreciate that everybody is very busy with Brexit, life does go on. We do want a resolution to this… Stephen’s not well and we want to have a civil partnership while we can.”

The number of cohabiting couples in the UK has more than doubled between 1996 and 2017 to 3.3 million but experts are warning that many couples are unaware of the lack of legal rights they possess as cohabiting couples.

A recent British Social Attitudes Survey revealed that 46 per cent of people wrongly believe that living together in England and Wales gives them similar legal status as a married couple.

Anne Barlow, professor of family law and policy at the University of Exeter, which commissioned the survey, said: “The result is often severe financial hardship for the more vulnerable party in the event of separation, such as women who have interrupted their career to raise children.

“It’s absolutely crucial that we raise awareness of the difference between cohabitation, civil partnership and marriage and any differences in rights that come with each.”

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell Turner Garrett in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.