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Do they need a divorce?
Marriage is defined as; ‘the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship’.
A Civil partnership is defined as; ‘The legal union for couples. Civil partners will have equal treatment to married couples in a wide range of legal matters’.
Although it should be noted that when it first came about in 2004 it was a great victory for the recognition of same-sex union whilst providing the same rights as a marriage. This until the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
The recent ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan allows for heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships as it breaches their human rights. This land mark ruling has been made to allow for partners of any sex to choose between the option of marriage and that of a civil partnership. However, in bringing these two forms of union closer together, have we not removed the necessity for them? If they are now identical in what they provide, is it time to choose one or the other?
The first recorded occurrence of marriage was around 2350 B.C in Mesopotamia, although records do not supply much more information than that – it would be surprising if it was the white wedding which is synonymous today but as a romantic, I’d like to think it was. As well as formally recognizing the union of two people, marriage (religious or not) allows for the sharing of assets between spouses, tax allowances and on death, the nil rate band can be utilised to ensure a married couple only pay inheritance tax once. How does this differ from those in a civil partnership, it doesn’t, those in civil partnerships are permitted the same allowances as those who are married. Even in divorce there is complete parity between both forms of union.
So what are the differences and why do they matter, firstly there is religion. Civil partnerships are secular ceremonies, whereas a wedding can be religious or secular. Then there are the vows – these are not required in a civil partnership but are required in every marriage. There is the issues with Civil Partnerships that there is no public index of them, as they have been rushed into law and there is no provision in the law to produce an index. This can cause issues for probate researchers and legal firms when it comes to tracing documentation. Another difference which can be seen as forward thinking, is that the names of both parents are required on the certificates for Civil Partnerships, whereas for marriages it is still solely the father. It is traditions like this that may see the popularity of marriages decrease in an ever more inclusive society. Furthermore data from 2017 shows that 42% of marriages will end in divorce, so with 2 in 5 marriages ending within 10 years is it losing its touch? Will the children of broken marriages find the concept of marriage to be irrelevant? With a society who are losing touch with religion, want to break free from the shackles and traditions of marriage, and just get a civil partnership instead?
As it stands it seems now that we have two options for doing the same thing, marriage and a civil partnership, does it make sense to remove the bureaucracy and settle for one of them? Or shall we just carry on as it is now after the recent Supreme Court ruling and let some people drink Coke, whilst others enjoy their Pepsi.