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Couples call for digital registration


civil partnerships, marriage, digital regristation, pandemic, COVID-19, financial security, legally recognised relationship, petition, Priti Patel, Myrtle LloydLegal recognition of a relationship is important, especially during a pandemic.

Mixed-sex civil partnerships were first allowed to take place in England and Wales on 31 December 2019.

This was just over five years since Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan tried to form a civil partnership at their local register office, were told they could not because they were not of the same sex and started campaigning for a change to the law.

Couples were finally allowed to protect their family legally and financially by forming the relationship that they wanted – but this right was taken away from them abruptly on 21 March when lock-down was announced.

All civil partnerships and weddings were cancelled with immediate effect as registrars’ offices were closed – except to register deaths.

The need to protect register office staff cannot be argued with, but it does leave couples without protection should the worst happen to them.

Many are key-workers, including those in healthcare, risking their lives to protect others and to keep Britain functioning.

Not being in a legally recognised relationship means that if one of the couple should die during the lockdown period, their partner will not receive widowed parent’s allowance or inheritance tax credit – meaning that the family home might need to be sold to cover payments – or pension transference.

These problems affect all couples – mixed and same-sex – who were planning a civil partnership or a marriage during this period.

By entering into a legal relationship – whether mixed or same-sex, civil partnership or marriage – couples automatically qualify to receive a range of benefits, many of which do not become apparent unless the relationship ends, either through death or dissolution.

These benefits include the right to bereavement support payments, inheritance tax relief, capital gains tax relief, the automatic right to be next of kin, the ability to inherit your partner’s pension, and the right to death in duty benefits – depending on the provider.

Many people think that there is a thing called a common-law marriage which will offer all these benefits.

There isn’t.

And if you are not in a legally recognised relationship and haven’t made a will, things will be even worse – their property (the estate) must be shared out according to certain rules. These are called the rules of intestacy.

Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.

And if there are no surviving relatives who can inherit under the rules of intestacy, the estate passes to the Crown.

The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign is now petitioning the Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, and Myrtle Lloyd, the Registrar General, to allow digital registrations for civil partnerships and marriages during lockdown.

Please sign and share this petition.

And forward it to your MP and ask for their support.

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