What is the difference between a civil partnership and a marriage?

Feb 1, 2021
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We are providing information on the different responsibilities and obligations within marriage and civil partnership. For further detail or advice on your marriage or civil partnership, you should contact a solicitors Chester



Marriage is two people entering a formal contract; to live together and maintain a relationship for the rest of their life. In the UK, both heterosexual and homosexual partners can now get married. Same-sex marriage was passed in the UK in 2014. 

A marriage will create obligations on each person to financially support the other. Each person will also gain rights to each others property. 

Marriages can only end through divorce or annulment.

Civil Partnership

A civil partnership is a legal formal relationship that can be created between both heterosexual and homosexual partners – these will then acquire the status of ‘civil partner’. 

Civil partnerships used to be only for same-sex couples, however, in 2018, civil partnerships became available for heterosexual couples too. 

A civil partnership grants very similar rights, responsibilities and obligations to that of a married couple. This option is often chosen by people who have been married before, and for personal or religious beliefs, do not want to marry again. 

Civil partnerships are ended by dissolution which is essentially the same as divorce. 



What is the difference between marriage and a civil partnership?

A marriage is formed by vows, but a civil partnership is formed by signing a civil partnership document. Also, as previously mentioned, a marriage can be ended by divorce or an annulment. However, a civil partnership is ended with dissolution – but this and divorce are essentially the same thing. 

A civil partnership is considered to some as a ‘not so serious’ form of marriage, but this is untrue. Whilst they are not considered the same in the eyes of religion or tradition, their rights and obligations and almost exactly that of marriage. This includes finances upon separation and the rules of inheritance and tax entitlements. 



Is a civil partnership the same as common law marriage?

The term common law marriage is used for couples who have lived together for an extended period. This does not come with any special rights and does not require a legal break up such as divorce. There are no rights for either party to share their finances, and the only claims which could be made are by tapping into old laws of property. 

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