The new legislation now allows more equal rights across all couples who wish for their union to be legally recognised, either in marriage or as a civil partnership, and will hopefully encourage more cohabiting couples to enter a partnership.
Some 3.3 million opposite-sex couples currently cohabit in the UK without any formal arrangements, and this is the fastest-growing type of family arrangement in the UK. Campaigners for this change in the law welcome the regulations, as they argue opposite-sex couples will be able to obtain the financial benefits which come with marriage through the alternative route of a civil partnership. Further, marriage and civil partnerships make it significantly easier to inherit property and spousal pensions when no such protection exists for cohabiting couples.
Parents joined in a civil partnership will now have the same rights as they would should they have been married. This will also be the case for children born via assisted reproduction, where the male civil partner will be regarded as the child’s father if he has consented to the procedure.
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An interesting further change which the regulations will make will be to the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013. Currently, under Section 9 of the Act, same-sex couples are able to convert their civil partnership into a marriage. However, only same-sex civil partners will be permitted to convert, and the same will not be available for opposite-sex civil partners.