What is civil partnership?

A civil partnership is the legal union for same sex couples.

Civil partners will have equal treatment to married couples in a wide range of legal matters.  

  • Two people may register a civil partnership provided they are of the same sex
  • They are not already in a civil partnership or lawfully married
  • They are not within prohibited degrees of relationship (e.g. closely related)
  • They are both aged 16 or over (and, if either of them is under 18 the consent of the appropriate person has been obtained)

Civil partnership registration can take place at a registration officeapproved venue or any religious premise approved as a venue for civil partnerships.  There are not currently any religious premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships within Cornwall.

A civil partnership is registered once the couple have signed the civil partnership document (the schedule) in the presence of a registrar and two witnesses.

There are words printed on the document which the couple will be able to say at the time of signing the document, but the couple are not legally required to say any words - there is therefore no prescribed ceremony that you have to go through - it is the signing of the schedule which makes the process legally recognised.

Yes, you can arrange a ceremony in addition to the signing of the legal documentation if you wish, but a ceremony is not required under the Act. It is up to you to decide.

Cornwall Registration Service has developed a number of beautiful ceremonies for you to choose from. The ceremony can be a very simple one with just a few words spoken or something more elaborate.

Civil partnerships can be registered at any time and date but must be agreed with the registration authority. 

Civil partnership is a legal relationship exclusively for same-sex couples distinct from marriage. The Government has sought to give civil partners parity of treatment with spouses, as far as is possible, in the rights and responsibilities that flow from forming a civil partnership.

There are a small number of differences between civil partnership and marriage, for example:

  • a civil partnership is formed when the second civil partner signs the relevant document. A civil marriage is formed when the couple exchanges spoken words.
  • Opposite-sex couples can opt for a religious or civil marriage ceremony, whereas formation of a civil partnership will be an exclusively civil procedure although it may take place within a religious premise approved for civil partnership registration.