Background

Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths

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New regulations for the Civil Partnerships Act

The Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations were made on 5 November 2019 and came into force on 2 December 2019. The new Act provided that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA 2004) would be amended so that opposite-sex couples are able to form civil partnerships in England and Wales.

But, what do the new regulations mean?

Civil partnerships are now extended to opposite-sex couples in England and Wales and certain opposite-sex relationships formed in other countries, which are not marriages, can also be recognised as civil partnerships in England and Wales.

Various pieces of legislation about children and parenthood have been amended to provide opposite-sex parents in civil partnerships with generally the same rights as opposite-sex married parents. This includes provisions governing legitimacy, presumed paternity and parental status in assisted reproduction cases, from cases where a child’s mother and father are married, to cases where their mother and father are in a civil partnership.

The change in law means that opposite-sex parents in civil partnerships now have the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex married parents with regard to parental responsibility.

The new legislation will also affect provisions for the recognition of a dissolution, annulment or legal separation granted overseas. This means that overseas relationships which are recognised as civil partnerships will no longer be restricted to relationships between same-sex couples.

There are also changes in relation to Pensions that we need to be aware of. Firstly, with regard to the Local Government Pension Scheme there are certain amendments currently before parliament relating to opposite-sex civil partnerships. Also, in relation to occupational pension schemes, trustees will need to check whether the scheme rules need to be amended in relation to death benefits for opposite-sex civil partners.

It is also worth remembering that if you enter into a Civil Partnership and you have already made a Will, unless provision has been made in your Will it would be automatically revoked. This would therefore mean that you would not have a valid Will in place and if you were to pass away, your estate would pass in accordance with the intestacy rules, which may not accord with your wishes. Therefore, if you are thinking of entering into a Civil Partnership it would be an ideal opportunity to review your existing Will, or make a new one if you do not have one.

There are also considerable Inheritance Tax issues to consider. Similar to married couples, any gifts to Civil Partners are exempt from Inheritance Tax in a Will. Furthermore, any unused “Nil Rate Band” or “Residence Nil Rate Band” can be transferred to surviving Civil Partners, creating useful Inheritance Tax savings. In addition, any transfers between Civil Partners during their lifetime could potentially be free of Capital Gains Tax, and would also be exempt from Inheritance Tax.

As can be seen, there are a number of issues to consider if you are entering into a Civil Partnership. Therefore, for further information and advice concerning the above or related issues please contact our Family and Wills, Trusts and Probate Teams on 01733 882800 or email [email protected].


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