The Civil Partnership Bill published June 2009 has been described by the Government as a key step in implementing its commitment to providing legal recognition for same sex couples and to address the lacuna in the law relating to the rights and duties of cohabitants.

Three distinct areas are addressed by the proposed legislation:

  1. It introduces a statutory mechanism for the registration of same sex partnerships and the consequences of such registration, including the dissolution of the partnership and reliefs available. The Bill also provides for the recognition of foreign registered civil partnerships and same sex marriages.
  2. It provides for the recognition of cohabitation agreements of opposite or same sex couples. It encourages cohabiting couples to enter contracts regulating their shared financial affairs.
  3. It proposes a method of protection for the financially dependant partner, be that same sex or opposite sex, at the end of a relationship or on death, by establishing a redress scheme where the financially dependant partner can apply for various financial relief and property adjustment orders. Cohabitants must be living together for a continuous period of two years where there are children, and three years where there are no children, prior to an application to the Court being made in order to qualify for relief.


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