Couple lose battle for changes to civil partnership laws

News Article

A couple who battled to overturn a ban on heterosexual couples entering into civil partnerships, have lost their case at the Court of Appeal.

Despite the judgment, the pair have vowed to take their fight to the Supreme Court, claiming that the current law is discriminatory.

Rebecca Steinfeld, 35, and Charles Keidan, 40, launched the legal action in 2014, arguing that they should be allowed the same rights as same-sex couples to opt for a civil partnership rather than marriage.

Despite ruling against them, the three Court of Appeal judges agreed that the discrimination against heterosexual couples could not last indefinitely. One judge went so far as to state that the government needed to change the law immediately, but was overruled by the other two judges who felt ministers should be given longer to review the situation.

In the ruling, Lord Justice Briggs said he could “well understand” the frustration felt by many over what they might regard as slow progress by the government.

Surjit Verdi, an Associate Solicitor who specialises in Family Law, said: “The Court agreed that the ban constitutes a potential violation of the couple’s human rights relating to both discrimination and the right to respect for private and family life, but despite this did not overturn the ban on heterosexual couples entering into civil partnerships as this is a matter which requires a legislative change by the government.

“Whilst many believe that a change in the law is not too far away, in the interim unmarried couples – regardless of whether they are same-sex or heterosexual – should put in place a cohabitation agreement.

“Also known as a living together agreement or "no nup", it sets out who owns what and agrees how you will split your property, its contents, personal belongings, savings and other assets in the event that the relationship breaks down.

“It can also cover how you will support your children, as well as how you would deal with bank accounts, debts, and any joint purchases.

“In tandem with a cohabitation agreement, it is also important to make a Will, as couples who cohabit do not enjoy the same legal protections as those who are married or in a civil partnership.

“If one partner dies without having made a Will then, under the laws of intestacy, the surviving partner would inherit nothing, no matter how long the relationship has lasted.”

For advice and help on protecting your legal rights as an unmarried couple, including setting up a cohabitation agreement and making a Will, please contact us.