December 9, 2019

New Legal Relationship in England and Wales

Credit: Chrysoulla Photography

At just after midnight on Monday 2nd December, a new form of legal relationship came into being in England and Wales. For the first time, mixed-sex couples can choose to register their relationship as a civil partnership as an alternative to marriage, an option that was previously only open to same-sex couples.

The first civil partnership registrations can take place from 31st December 2019 and register offices throughout the country have been kept busy as couples rushed to give notice. One of the couples doing so was Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan whose fight for the right to have a civil partnership, a fight supported throughout by the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign,  led them to a win at the Supreme Court. They were joined by hundreds of couples today during the rest of the week, keen to give notice and be among the first to register their partnership.

After giving notice at Hammersmith and Fulham Register Office at 10.30 am on Monday 2nd December, Rebecca Steinfeld said, “I’m so happy and relieved that we’ve finally been able to give notice of our intention to form a civil partnership. It matters that feminists like me, in mixed-sex relationships, can through civil partnerships, formalise a relationship of equals.”

Charles Keidan added, “I’m really happy and proud to have played a role in giving birth to a new type of legal relationship and social structure – one which I hope will increase people’s happiness, well-being, choice and security.  A civil partnership is the perfect expression of our values and relationship.”

Many other couples will have gone to bed on Sunday 1st December cohabiting and woken up to find themselves civil partners.  Civil partnership equivalents entered into outside the United Kingdom automatically became a legal relationship at 00.01am on Monday 2nd December. Martin Loat, chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, who is, in fact in this position having registered his partnership with Claire Beale in the Isle of Man three years ago, said, “This is a truly momentous day. We are the very beginning of a totally new social institute and it’s exciting to be one of the first to enjoy this. We know from our supporters that this is a day that has been longed for and we look forward to seeing what will happen from now on with it.”