Civil partnerships were introduced in the UK under the Civil Partnership Act 2004 for same-sex couples to legally unite in something similar to a marriage, but without some of the same legal rights.
They were essentially introduced as an interim measure before equal marriage was legally allowed.
Since 2004, only same sex-couples were eligible, however; in 2018 opposite sex couples won the rights to have a civil partnership. Recently, the Government has set out the next steps for opposite-sex civil partnerships to include the right to convert a marriage to a civil partnership
There is not a lot of difference between the two types of union but there are a few areas where the rights are not the same. These areas include acquiring parental responsibility, child maintenance, inheritance tax, social security, tenancy rights, full life insurance recognition and even next of kin rights. Despite being legally recognised in a number of countries, there are some destinations where a civil partnership is not. This can cause issues if you’re attempting to emigrate.
There are also some differences for those wishing to separate - a married couple who are living together can separate informally and there is no need for intervention of the court. However, if you’re in a civil partnership, you will need to go to court to dissolve the partnership.
So why are people wanting to enter a civil partnership instead of a marriage? Well, for many they just want to formalise their relationship, but do not want to be married.
The Government have produced a comparison guide for civil partnerships and marriages for same sex couples which can be downloaded here. Consultation will continue until 20th August 2019.