Posted on: February 11th, 2020

We recently conducted some research that found that more than half of us would still prefer the more traditional option of getting married, even though the first mixed-sex civil partnerships have already taken place.

The survey, which was conducted by PanelBase, found that 51 percent of people asked would choose marriage, while only nine percent would pick a civil partnership. In the North East alone, 43 percent opted for marriage with nine percent choosing a civil partnership.

In the national research, 20 percent of participants said they would be happy with either a marriage or a civil partnership, with a further 20 percent saying that both options were out of the question. In the North East, 13 percent didn’t mind which way they demonstrated their commitment and seven percent said they wouldn’t do either.

Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004 to give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples and were the only option until gay marriage was legalised in 2014. They were not available to heterosexual couples until 2 December 2019, with the first mixed-sex civil partnership ceremony taking place four weeks later, on New Year’s Eve.

Janet Ford, our head of private family law , said: “Legally, there is very little difference between a marriage and a civil partnership. The couple will still have the same next of kin rights when it comes to inheritance tax and in hospitals.

“The major differences are that civil partners don’t get divorced, they have their partnership dissolved, and that adultery can’t be cited as a valid reason to dissolve the partnership. Civil partners also can’t legally declare themselves as married on documentation.

“The major issues raised by campaigners were more concerned with the social implications of marriage, seeing it as a patriarchal construct, and civil partnerships being considered to be a more ‘equal’ way of demonstrating commitment for mixed-sex couples.

“That said, heterosexual civil partnerships have only just begun to take place, and same-sex marriages were a hard-won right, so it is unsurprising that the majority of people would still pick marriage over civil partnerships if they choose to legally formalise their relationship at all.”

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