Civil Partnerships – a new kind of convention?

mediationCivil partnerships recognise the validity of same sex relationships. They provide the same legal and social recognition as heterosexual couples who marry. It is a public statement, sign of commitment and a legally recognised category. As with marriage, civil partnership changes the legal relationship between couples and gives them certain rights, responsibilities and entitlements which they would not have if they were in a casual, unrecognised relationship, if they were merely cohabitees as opposed to being married or in a civil partnership. In some ways same sex relationships are flouting convention, possibly not the typical picture of a nuclear family or how society would portray family and marriage relationships generally. Yet civil partnerships once unusual, perhaps unconventional have acquired a new acceptance and have become almost conventional. Not only may they include the exchange of rings but quite often the couple decide to adopt the same surname. Ironically, such outward signs of convention can appear very unconventional and challenging. If two men living together choose to adopt the same surname, this is quite unusual, if same sex couples exchange rings or have a lavish public ceremony, somehow this adoption of classic conventions appears to be flouting them too. It is an interesting situation whereby the very essence of convention and acceptability – a wedding, exchange of rings, adoption of the same surname in a same sex relationship seem challenging and a flouting of convention. We now have the ultimate sign of marriage – the divorce or the dissolution of civil partnerships and these cases are now going through the courts in the same way divorcing couples have for many years. The Lawrence v Gallagher case established clearly that financial claims within a civil partnership are to be dealt with in the same way as a marriage, that means in legal speak that the same financial remedies are available to people within a civil partnership as within a marriage. Couples acquire the same legal rights and remedies. This is also perhaps an example of where the law is ahead of public thinking – there is absolutely no difference between same sex and heterosexual relationships in law but perhaps not yet in society. For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email info@cotswoldmediation.com.
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