Couples across the UK now have the option of a simple conversion from a civil partnership to a marriage following the Marriages (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
The change has been welcomed by those who have previously formed civil partnerships. Thousands of couples now planning on changing their civil unions to marriages, many of whom will have ceremonies to mark the occasion.
How do I convert to marriage?
Couples of the same sex have been able to form a civil partnership from 21 December 2005 in England and Wales, and in 2014 they were granted the right to marry. With the introduction of new legislation, couples who have a civil partnership will be able to convert their union to a marriage.
Those who wish to convert their civil partnerships can either have a simple process at a register office or a two-stage process in which the conversion is completed in front of family and friends at another venue.
A ceremony can now include those things previously prohibited too such as religious readings and venues, widening the choice of ceremony style for couples.
There is no fee for conversion at a register office if the civil partnership was registered before 29 March 2014, if the conversion is registered on or before 9 December 2015. The standard fee is otherwise £45, with additional fees for any further ceremony. Some councils such as Lancashire County Council have waivered this fee.
What does the conversion mean?
The conversion changes a civil partnership into a ‘marriage’. Any ceremony has no further legal effect but offers same sex couples a chance to share their happy news in the company of their loved ones.
The conversion is marked by a marriage certificate, which is backdated to the date of the original civil partnership, which is an unusual occurrence but will be welcome for many.
But do civil partnerships have to be converted?
No they don’t. Civil partnerships are still going to be available to same sex couples.
However, if a transgender person is planning to formally transition, a civil partnership wouldn’t remain valid and they would not be able to enter into a civil partnership; a civil partnership would need to be converted to marriage before applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
Does conversion affect legal rights?
The conversion does not change rights relating to property, finances, children, parental responsibility, wills and tax exemptions.
Before entering into a civil partnership or marriage, it may be worthwhile obtaining expert legal advice from our approachable family law team.
Speak to Kate Allsop by calling 0161 761 4611 or email firstname.lastname@example.org