A step-by-step guide to registering a civil partnership in Scotland

28 January 2019 Family Law Wright & Crawford Solicitors and Estate Agents

A recent consultation asking the public whether civil partnerships should be opened to opposite-sex couples came to a close last month.

The Scottish Government is currently reviewing the responses to the consultation to decide on the future of civil partnerships. With that in mind, we have created an in-depth guide about the current process of civil partnerships in Scotland, how to register, and the differences between a civil partnership and marriage.

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a relationship that is legally recognised and can be registered by two people of the same sex. The rights and responsibilities in a civil partnership are similar to those from a marriage. In Scotland, same-sex couples also have the option to get married.

Rights of civil partners

It is crucial to know your rights and responsibilities as a civil partner before entering into the partnership. These rights will include:

  • A duty to provide financial support for your civil partner and any children of the family
  • Equitable treatment for assessment for child support, life assurance, employment and pension benefits and inheritance of a tenancy agreement
  • Recognition under Succession (Inheritance) rules

How do I register a civil partnership?

In order to register a civil partnership in Scotland, the following circumstances must apply to both you and your partner:

  • You are both aged 16 or over
  • You are both of the same sex
  • You are not currently in a civil partnership or married to another
  • You are not relatives who are legally forbidden from registering a civil partnership

There are two steps to registering a civil partnership. Firstly, you must give notice of your intention to register and then you can register the partnership.

What documentation do I need to give notice?

When you give notice, you will be asked to give details on the date and place where the civil partnership is to be registered. You will also have to provide the register office with personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth and whether you have been in a civil partnership or marriage before. In some cases, you may also be required to give evidence of your nationality. Your notice must be accompanied with your birth certificate and the correct fee when you hand it over to the district registrar.

What if I have been in a civil partnership before?

You will need to produce evidence that proves you are free to register a civil partnership at the point you give notice. This documentation could be a decree of divorce or the death certificate of a former civil partnership.

How long do I need to be a resident in Scotland to register a civil partnership?

Any two people, regardless of where in the world they live, can register a civil partnership in Scotland, provided they meet the requirements listed above. As there are no residency requirements, you can choose the district in Scotland where you wish to register.

What happens after you have given notice?

Details from the notice will be publicised in the registrar office for the area you intend to register. These details will be made available for people to see for 28 days before you can register your civil partnership to give an opportunity for any objections to the partnership to be made. The details that are made available will not include your or your partners’ address.

Provided there are no objections to the partnership, the registrar office will produce a legal document called a Civil Partnership Schedule once the waiting period has expired. Once the Civil Partnership Schedule is ready, you are free to register your partnership within the next three months. If you don’t register within this time, you cannot register unless you choose to start the entire process again. You and your partner must sign the civil partnership document in front of two witnesses in addition to the person who registers your partnership.

Who can register a civil partnership?

Either a district or assistant registrar, or a religious or belief celebrant who has been authorised by the Registrar General can register your civil partnership. Depending on who registers your partnership, will depend on where it takes place. If, for example, your partnership is registered by a registrar, it may take place either in a registration office or any other place that the registration authority agrees to, except for religious premises. If registered by a religious or belief celebrant, the partnership can take place anywhere agreed by you and your celebrant.

What is the difference between a civil partnership and a marriage?

Civil partnerships and marriage are almost identical as civil partners have the same rights and responsibilities as married partners do. However, a civil partnership is only available to same-sex couples at the moment, whereas marriage is available to both mixed-sex and same-sex couples.

Contact our Family Lawyers Paisley & Bearsden

If you are considering entering into a civil partnership and wish to put a civil partnership agreement in place, our qualified family lawyers can help. Wright & Crawford is based in Paisley and Bearsden and serves clients throughout Renfrewshire and the Glasgow area. Get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors today via the online enquiry form.