Family Law Fails To Move With The Times

The failure to allow couples of the opposite sex to enter into a civil partnership instead of marriage has caused anger among those who feel their right to an equal partnership has been undermined.

The court of appeal rejected an appeal in February brought by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan who had attempted to lift the restriction on opposite sex couples entering into civil partnership (s 3(i)(a) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (the 2004 Act)).

While civil partnerships for same sex couples have been around in England and Wales since 2005 introducing them for opposite sex couples continues to be rejected.

Same sex couples seeking civil partnerships do so often because they reject the patriarchal aspects of marriage and what it has represented through history. Partners feel that not allowing them to enter a civil partnership undermines their human rights.

The issue is particularly contentious when same sex couples are allowed to choose between marriage and civil partnerships even though take up of the latter has been falling.

The failure to recognise civil partnerships means that family law continues to lag behind in reform in this area and those individuals who are prevented from entering a civil partnership have no choice other than to marry if they want to formalise their relationships.