The latest from the Black Country 

Ruling on Open Civil Partnerships to All

Rayner GriceA heterosexual couple have lost their court of appeal battle for the right to enter into a civil partnership instead of a marriage. Rebecca Steinfield and Charles Keidan challenged a ruling that they could not have a civil partnership as they did not meet the legal requirement of being the same sex. Currently same sex couples can enter into a civil partnership which then gives them virtually the same legal recognition as a married couple.

Rayner Grice, a family law specialist and Partner at Birmingham law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, said: “This ruling means that cohabiting couples are still not able to be afforded the same legal rights as married couples unless they marry, albeit that they may well be demonstrating the same commitments by way of financial commitment and children. The government have been reported as saying that it would be too expensive to change the current legislation so that heterosexual couples can have a civil partnership but also that now marriage is available for same sex couples that civil partnership may be phased out.

“However this continues the debate for the rights of cohabiting couples on relationship breakdown or death in that the protection afforded to them is extremely limited. Is that right when most are demonstrating the same level of commitment to each other? Should they be forced to marry so that they can protect themselves and their children on relationship breakdown and death?

“Some will say that marriage still has religious connotations and why should they have to marry if they are not religious. Currently there is consideration of changing the current law for cohabitants and the recent decision regarding pension benefits or a deceased’s partner demonstrated the changing view on cohabiting couples. Some may say that the answer may be that if commitment is the determination for grating enhanced rights then a civil partnership for cohabiting couples may be the answer.

“However what today’s judgment shows is that the rights of cohabiting couples are still very much inferior to those of a married couple. Can that be right when cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the uk and how are we to protect the needs of children of such families?”

For more information please contact Clarke Willmott on 0800 652 8025 or visit

Last modified on Tuesday, 21 February 2017 15:36

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