Civil Partnerships vs Marriage

Barker Son & Isherwood LLP


Phone 01264 353411


March 2014. It’s when the first same-sex marriages happened in England and Wales, after introducing a new law.

An alternative to a civil partnership, marriage offers men and men, and women and women, legal recognition of their relationship. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of civil partnership formations fell quite significantly after same-sex marriage became possible. But which, if either, is the better option?

There’s not actually that much in it as far as legal rights go. Civil partners are treated in much the same way as married couples in many respects, including inheritance tax (assets can be passed between civil partners without attracting IHT) and pension rights.

The process of divorce (in marriage) and dissolution (in a civil partnership) isn’t all that different, save that adultery is a ground for divorce but not for dissolution. In practical terms, the demise of both a civil partnership and a marriage will lead to a period of settlement negotiations, or court action if it comes to it.

Without wishing to strip out the romance completely, it is worth understanding what you’re getting yourself into. Civil partnership and marriage each create rights and responsibilities about which you’ll need to be very clear. And there are some quite fundamental things that we advise clients to think about as part of this. One is a pre-nuptial agreement; it should provide some protection for your assets if the relationship breaks down. Another is updating your Will so that it’s in line with your new set-up. This is particularly important if you want certain assets to pass to people other than your civil partner or husband/wife.

The law has come some way in recognising same-sex relationships, and the choice of a civil partnership or marriage tends to be a very personal one. It pays to make the right decision for you. So take in as much advice as you can along the way. And if the relationship falters, know where to turn.

Contact our Family Team today for advice on your position, whatever stage you’re at in your relationship. Call 01264 353411, email"> or complete our no-obligation enquiry form on our website.

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