As of 31 December 2019 the law changed to allow mixed sex couples to enter into a Civil Partnership.

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is an alternative to marriage that allows your relationship with your partner to be legally recognised.  Some people argue that marriage has religious and outdated associations and may prefer this more modern approach.

Civil partnerships were introduced for same sex couples in 2005, at this time marriage was unavailable for same sex couples. This changed in 2014, when the law gave same sex couples the option of choosing either a civil partnership or marriage as a way of legally recognising their union.

A breach of human rights?

This led to an unequal position in the law with heterosexuals couples only being able to marry.  This inconsistency was highlighted by Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, who tried, unsuccessfully, to form a civil partnership at their local registry office in 2014. The couple brought their case to court and, on 27 June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that civil partnerships be available for everyone.

A change in the law

This remarkable case led to a change in the law and heterosexual couples now have the choice to opt for a civil partnership instead of marriage. At the end of 2019, the first heterosexual couples to become civil partners celebrated their unions.

The Government has estimated that around 84,000 heterosexual couples could form civil partnerships in the next year.

What about my legal rights?

Entering a civil partnership will give your relationship added legal rights and responsibilities as civil partnerships offer the same rights as marriage, including property and inheritance rights. However, if you are considering entering a civil partnership, it is worth bearing in mind that civil partnerships are not recognised in every country.

Congratulations to those couples forming civil partnerships from everyone at David Gray.


If you would like advice on Civil Partnerships or any other area of Family Law we have a large and friendly team here at David Gray in our offices in Newcastle city centre and South Shields.  Call Louise Law on 0191 232 9547 or email here at for more information or to arrange an appointment.