Should heterosexual couples be allowed to have a civil partnership?

Tue 21st Feb 2017

Heterosexual couple, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, have lost their fight to be recognised as entering into a civil partnership instead of a marriage. Sarah Evans of Coodes Solicitors’ Family team comments.

“The couple, who had entered into a civil partnership and have a daughter together, were seeking a declaration that their civil partnership was valid. They considered that marriage was “patriarchal” and “sexist” and therefore did not suit their relationship. The Government opposed their application and as a result they took their case to the Court of Appeal, who today gave judgement.

“Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan lost their case by two votes to one. Despite this, all three Judges – Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Briggs and Lord Justice Beatson – agreed with the legal merit of their case and accepted that heterosexual couples were being discriminated against as a result of the Government’s position. Lady Justice Arden concluded that the Government should act immediately to change the law, whilst her fellow Judges felt that the Government should be given more time to review the situation and consider the uptake of civil partnerships.

“The couple now plan to appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, unless the Government is prepared to willingly change the status quo. They are supported by prominent equality campaigners and by a cross-party group of MPs who feel that such a move would assist the growing body of cohabiting couples in the UK.

“At present there are some three million cohabiting same-sex couples in the UK who have very limited legal rights upon death or the breakdown of their relationships. If the worst should happen, those in cohabiting relationships often find themselves in financial difficulties with no means of redress as the usual avenues available under the Matrimonial Causes Act are not open to them. These are people who have chosen, for whatever reason, to eschew the tradition of marriage. It may well be that a modern civil partnership would better suit these couples whilst providing them with some much needed legal protection.

“It may be that Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan will ultimately be successful in their case. However in the meantime cohabiting couples can take some steps to protect themselves and their property by entering into a cohabitation agreement.

“This case raises questions about whether or not heterosexual couples should have an alternative to marriage. My colleague Elise Alma discusses this in her blog on civil partnerships.”

For more information or advice on divorce or any Family matters, contact Sarah Evans at Coodes Solicitors on 01579 347600 or sarah.evans@coodes.co.uk

Tue 21st Feb 2017

Sarah Evans

Head of Family

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