Same-Sex Marriages Available To Civil Partners From December

‘Mixed Emotions’ As Government Confirms Couples In Civil Partnership Can Convert From 14 December 2014

27.06.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Lawyers representing a couple who hope to convert their civil partnership to a same-sex marriage as soon as possible say they have ‘mixed emotions’ following the publication of a Government review which confirmed a December date for conversions to take place.

Same Sex Marriage became available on 31st March this year but there was no process for those in civil partnerships to convert to a marriage.

In a document outlining the likely next steps for Civil Partnerships the Government has confirmed that from 10 December 2014 all couples currently in a civil partnership will be able to convert to a same-sex marriage – nine months after other couples were able to undertake the ceremony.

Specialist family lawyers at Irwin Mitchell represented a couple which challenged the Government, pushing for an exact date as soon as possible for conversions to be allowed under the same-sex marriage process.

South Yorkshire couple Paul and Michael Atwal-Brice sought legal advice and campaigned for the Government to set a date as they believed it was unfair that same-sex marriage was not available to people who had already shown a serious commitment to their partners by entering into a civil partnership.

Now the couple and their lawyers say they are relieved that a date has been set but are disappointed that the will have to wait a further six months before they can get married.

The response to a consultation about civil partnerships also confirmed that civil partnerships would remain available and unchanged until sufficient data and information around same-sex marriage take up is available.

Zoe Round, a Partner in the Family Law team at Irwin Mitchell, said:

Expert Opinion
While it is a relief that same-sex couples can now set a date for their wedding, there is still some disappointment that they will have to wait a further seven months to convert their civil partnerships.

“Paul and Michael have fought hard and with us highlighted the issues facing same-sex couple by placing legal pressure on the Government to set the date for conversions to marriage. The December date is right on the limits of what the Government hoped to achieve by making the process available to all couples before the end of the year – and while it is good that there is now a fixed timeline of action, questions still remain about why it cannot be sorted earlier?

“In terms of civil partnerships generally, many people responding to the Government consultation raised the point that until same-sex marriage has been around for a while it is premature to do anything drastic such as abolishing civil partnerships, which seems to be a sensible approach.”
Zoe Round, Partner

Paul Atwal-Brice, said: “We were distraught when we found out at the start of this year that we wouldn’t be able to get married when we had previously planned and we believed it was very unfair that no one could tell us when those in civil partnerships could go through the marriage process.

“We have tried to put pressure on Government to set a date so that we and other couples can plan for the future and we are so pleased that we now have a date to work towards. It is a shame that there are another seven months to wait but at least we can now look forward to our special day.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Civil Partnerships.