Civil Partnership

Civil partnership and marriage are both legal unions between two people. In the eyes of the law, there are some key differences between the two.

Civil partnerships were introduced in the UK in 2004, as a way for same-sex couples to have their relationship legally recognised. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 gave same-sex couples many of the same rights as married heterosexual couples, but there were some key differences. For example, civil partners could not refer to each other as ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, and they were not able to get married in a religious ceremony.

In 2014, the Civil Partnership Act was extended to allow opposite-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership. This change meant that all couples, regardless of their gender, had the same options when it came to legal recognition of their relationship.

Marriage Laws

Marriage, on the other hand, has always been open to opposite-sex and same-sex couples. In 2013, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed, which meant that same-sex couples could get married in England and Wales. This Act also gave civil partners the option to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.

Civil Partnership vs Marriage

So, what are the key differences between civil partnership vs marriage? Civil partnerships are not currently available to opposite-sex couples in Scotland and Northern Ireland, whereas marriage is. Civil partnerships can only be dissolved by a court order, whereas marriages can be ended either by divorce or annulment. And, finally, civil partnerships do not carry the same social and cultural weight as marriage.

Here are a few more differences to take note of:

  • A marriage is formed by vows, whereas a civil partnership is created when two people join their names in the civil partnership document.
  • Although the process is fundamentally the same, marriages are ended by divorce, whereas civil partnerships are ended by dissolution.

A civil partnership is not a form of “marriage-lite.” While civil partnerships do not have the same traditional and religious connotations as marriage, the rights and obligations are almost identical to those of marriage. This includes available financial provision upon separation, rules of inheritance, and available tax entitlements.


So, which one is right for you? It really depends on your personal circumstances and what is important to you. If you want to have a legally recognised relationship but don’t want to get married, then a civil partnership could be the perfect option. Or, if you feel strongly about getting married and want to have all the rights and responsibilities that come with it, then marriage might be the better choice. You can find out more information on Wilson Browne Solicitors.