What’s the difference between civil partnership and marriage?

Civil partnerships are now available to all couples in Scotland following a change in the law.

What’s the difference between civil partnership and marriage? iStock
All couples can now choose between civil partnerships and marriages.

Civil partnerships are now available to all couples in Scotland, following a change in the law which previously limited them to same-sex relationships.

Mixed-sex registrations began taking place on Wednesday, with Patrizia Canu and Flavio Carfagnini among the first to hold a ceremony in Edinburgh.

The rights and responsibilities are mostly similar to marriage, so what’s the difference?

What is a civil partnership?

Put simply, it’s a legal relationship between two people.

They were first introduced for same-sex couples in Scotland in 2005, and since then nearly 6000 registrations have taken place.

A change in the law following a Supreme Court challenge now means all couples can choose a civil partnership instead of marriage.

What are the similarities with marriage?

  • Obligation to support each other financially and probable rights to the first deceased’s pension.
  • Right to inherit a partner’s property and wealth.
  • Legal protection from domestic abuse.
  • Recognition as the next of kin.

How about the differences?

Marriage is often linked to religion and involves tradition and making vows, whereas civil partnerships are confirmed by both parties signing a document.

There are also some differences when it comes to ending the relationship.

For example, while adultery is a specific reason for a marital divorce, infidelity comes under ‘unreasonable behaviour’ for dissolving a civil partnership.

However, marriages and civil partnerships are both ended by applying to the sheriff court.