The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (the Act) which came into effect on 5 December 2005 affords registered same sex partners very similar rights and responsibilities to those of opposite sex, married couples. Below is a brief insight into the likely impact of the Act on some areas of family law legislation.
Presently opposite sex non- married partners must be resident in the UK for 5 years to qualify for naturalisation as a British citizen and opposite sex married partners only 3 years. In light of the new Act the UK Government intends to amend current British nationality law to give same sex civil partners the same status as opposite sex spouses.
A UK citizen's foreign same sex partner will be able to apply for entry clearance to come to the UK to register a civil partnership. Once clearance is obtained and the partnership has been registered, the foreign partner may apply for leave to remain in the UK for 2 years in the first instance. At the end of this period and providing the civil partnership is still continuing an application can be made for settlement.
A foreign national who is in a civil partnership with a UK national may be able to apply to join their same sex partner in the UK on similar grounds as opposite sex married couples. Under the existing immigration rules a partner not domiciled in the UK would only be able to apply to join their partner in the UK if they have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage for 2 years or more. The UK government has proposed that the Immigration Rules be amended to mirror that for opposite sex married couples by removing the 2 years prior cohabitation requirement for civil partnerships.
The Act expressly recognises established partnership regimes that have been concluded in certain other jurisdictions.
There will be 3 ways in which a civil partnership can be ended: death, dissolution and nullity.
This is the equivalent to a divorce for married couples. The basis upon which a partnership can be dissolved is that the 'civil partnership has broken down irretrievably'. No application for dissolution can be made within a year of registration. The grounds for claiming that the civil partnership has broken down are very similar to divorce, namely;
2 years separation with consent
5 years separation
2 years desertion
The Courts will have powers to make provision for financial relief in the same way as upon the breakdown of a marriage. The Court may make;
Maintenance and lump sum orders
Property adjustment orders
Orders for sale
Pension sharing orders
The effect of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is that same sex, civil partners will to all intents and purposes be put on the same footing as opposite sex married couples and enjoy the rights and responsibilities that go with a committed relationship.
Talk to our Civil Partnerships team today: 0845 603 10 57 or email us: email@example.com