Civil Partnerships - Recent Changes (July 2021)

Civil partnerships hit the headlines in Scotland recently, with a change in the Law from 30 June 2021 meaning that mixed-sex couples can now enter into a civil partnership.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force in December 2005. It provided that same-sex couples could enter into a civil partnership but mixed-sex couples could not. A Supreme Court decision in 2018 found that the European Convention on Human Rights was being breached on the grounds of equality by not allowing mixed-sex couples to enter a civil partnership. The Scottish Parliament then passed the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020 which allows mixed-sex couples to enter a civil partnership.

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a legal relationship between two people which is registered. The difference between a civil partnership and a marriage is that with a marriage there are prescribed words that have to be spoken. This is not required with a civil partnership. Civil partners have almost exactly the same rights as responsibilities as married couples.

The criteria for a civil partnership

If you would like to enter a civil partnership in Scotland you need to meet the following criteria:-

  • be aged 16 or over

  • not married or in a civil partnership with someone else

  • not closely related

  • of the same sex 

  • of mixed-sex (from 30 June 2021)

  • capable of understanding what a civil partnership means and of consenting to a civil partnership.

What are the requirements for registering a civil partnership?

The couple has to give notice of their intention to register a civil partnership. There is a 29 day notice period. Giving notice is done by submitting a notice to the registration office in the registration district where the registration will take place.

How can you end a civil partnership?

A civil partnership can be brought to an end either on the death of one of the parties or by applying to the court. There is a simplified procedure and an ordinary procedure. The correct procedure to use will depend on your circumstances.

The Drummond Miller family law team is extremely experienced in dealing with all aspects of family law including separation, divorce, and child-related matters. If you would like any further information or advice, please get in touch with our experienced solicitors in Edinburgh, Dalkeith, Musselburgh or Bathgate.