FAQs on the law and couples in same-sex relationships


Does the law recognise same-sex relationships?

UK law recognises same-sex couples although it does not yet allow them to marry. However, the law does allow same-sex couples to register their relationship as a civil partnership. Civil partners have much the same rights as their married counterparts.

Are there different legal rights for cohabiting couples and civil partners?

There are few aspects where the law treats cohabiting same-sex couples and civil partners differently. However, there are some important differences. It is important to speak to a family law solicitor about how the status of your relationship affects your legal and other rights.

How do same-sex couples enter into a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is entered into when both parties sign a civil partnership document in front of two witnesses and a registrar. The correct amount of notice must first be given, in person, at the registrar’s office. There is no requirement for a specific ceremony or public event, and no requirement for any specific words or vows to be exchanged.

Can same-sex couples adopt?

In the UK, civil partners and cohabiting same-sex couples can adopt a child. Similarly, a civil partner can legally adopt their partner’s child.

What is a living together agreement?

Cohabiting couples and civil partners can choose to enter into a cohabitation agreement, also known as a living together agreement. This document allows the couple to record their agreement on certain issues, such as parental responsibility, living arrangements, financial arrangements, property ownership and how such issues will be dealt with if the relationship breaks down.

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