Marriage, cohabitation, civil partnerships and divorce

There is lots of information and advice available on getting married, living together, civil partnerships (for same-sex couples) and getting divorced.

Marriages

The General Register Office (GRO) publishes an online guide to getting married. The website covers where you can get married, details on the residential and other legal requirements for marriage, and what you need to do if you discover an error on your marriage certificate.

If you are looking for a copy of your marriage certificate, this can be ordered online or through the register office or religious building where the marriage took place. The General Register Office holds a central copy of all registrations for England and Wales. Local Register Offices also hold records of events registered in their area.

English Heritage publishes a list of its historic buildings available for hire for a civil wedding.

Find out about civil marriage ceremonies

Find out more by following the link below. You can enter details of where you live and you’ll be taken to your local authority website where you can find out more.

Book a marriage renewal ceremony

The following link will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more.

Cohabitation

There are over two million opposite sex couples living together in England and Wales in cohabitation. Although cohabitants are now given legal protection in several areas, they and their families have significantly fewer rights and responsibilities than their married counterparts. However many cohabitants are not aware of their position and consequently take no steps to protect themselves.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) is keen to dispel the myth of ‘common law marriage’ and supports and funds two voluntary sector partners, Advice Services Alliance and One Plus One, to manage the ‘Living Together’ campaign. This campaign aims to make both opposite and same sex cohabitants more aware of their legal status and provide them with practical advice on how they can protect themselves and their families, should they wish to do so.

Civil Partnerships

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005 and enables same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship. Couples who form a civil partnership will have a new legal status, that of ‘civil partner’.

Civil partners have equal treatment in a wide range of legal matters with married couples, including:

  • tax, including inheritance tax
  • employment Benefits
  • most state and occupational pension benefits
  • income related benefits, tax credits and child support
  • duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partners and any children of the family
  • ability to apply for parental responsibility for your civil partner’s child
  • inheritance of a tenancy agreement
  • recognition under intestacy rules
  • access to fatal accidents compensation
  • protection from domestic violence
  • recognition from immigration and nationality purposes

Since civil partnerships have been introduced there have been important changes affecting same-sex couples who claim income related benefits, regardless of whether the couple decide to form a civil partnership.

In order to form a civil partnership you must first give notice. A civil partnership can be formed in England and Wales at a register office or an approved premise.

The General Register Office has information on the process and costs of forming a civil partnership.

The Department for Work and Pensions has published a leaflet containing information on how partnerships may affect your benefits.

The Woman and Equality Unit has published some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about civil partnerships.



Book a civil partnership

The following link will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more.

Dissolution

Dissolution is the term used to describe the termination of a civil partnership. Dissolution is a procedure similar to divorce. To get a dissolution you must have been in a civil partnership for more than one year. You must complete a form called a ‘Petition’, giving the reasons why you are applying, to show your civil partnership is definitely over- i.e. that it has ‘irretrievably broken down’.

If there are children of the family you should also complete a form called a ‘statement of arrangements’ in which you tell the court what plans you have made for the children once the dissolution is final.

Her Majesty’s Court Service website has information about dissolution.

Divorce

To get divorced you must have been married for more than one year. You must complete a form, called a ‘Petition’, giving the reasons why you are applying, to show your marriage is definitely over. If you have children you also complete a form called the ‘statement of arrangements’ in which you tell the court what plans you have made for the children once the divorce is final.

Her Majesty’s Court Service website has information about divorce.

There is information about divorce in the Parents section of Directgov. It contains legal advice and contacts, information on counselling and mediation, and suggests what is appropriate when there are children involved.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) looks after the interests of children involved in family proceedings. It works with children and their families, and then advises the courts on what it considers to be in the children’s best interests. The website provides information for children, teenagers and adults.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) publishes information and advice for parents and children on dealing with divorce and separation when children are involved

Leave a Reply

*

four × 4 =