Guidance on civil partnerships in Northern Ireland

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enables same-sex couples to get legal recognition of their relationship. Couples who form a civil partnership have a new legal status, that of 'civil partner'. Civil partners have equal treatment to married couples in a wide range of legal matters.

The laws in NI on marriage and civil partnerships are changing. You can get details at this link: Changes to the law in NI

People who can enter into civil partnerships in Northern Ireland

Any two people, regardless of where they live, may enter into a civil partnership in Northern Ireland, as long as:

  • both are at least 16 years of age on the day of their marriage - anyone under 18 will need permission from their parent or guardian
  • they are not related to one another in a way which would prevent their civil partnership registration
  • they are unmarried or are not already in a civil partnership (any person who has already been married or in a civil partnership must produce documentary evidence that the previous marriage has been ended by death, divorce or annulment, or the previous civil partnership has been dissolved)
  • they are of the same sex
  • they are capable of understanding what  a civil partnership

Types of relationship within which civil partnership is unlawful

Civil partnership registration may not possible if the parties are related.

Circumstances where a civil partnership is not possible

Two people cannot enter into a civil partnership if they are related to each other by being a:

  • adoptive child
  • adoptive parent
  • child
  • former adoptive child
  • former adoptive parent
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • parent
  • parent’s sibling
  • sibling
  • sibling’s child

In the list the term 'sibling' means a brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister.

Circumstances where a civil partnership may be possible

Two people cannot enter into a civil partnership if one falls within the following list where it directly concerns the other. However, there are some exceptions:

  • child of former civil partner
  • child of former spouse
  • former civil partner of grandparent
  • former civil partner of parent
  • former spouse of grandparent
  • former spouse of parent
  • grandchild of former civil partner
  • grandchild of former spouse

Exceptions

  • both of them have reached 21 at the time when they register as civil partners of each other, and
  • the younger has not at any time before reaching 18 lived in the same household as that other person, and been treated by that other person as a child of his/her family

Your rights as a civil partner

As a civil partner you have the right to equal treatment as a married couple in a wide range of legal matters.

Find out more about marriage, civil partnerships and cohabitation rights.

Making arrangements

It is important to make early arrangements for the date and time of your civil partnership registration. In order to get the date of your choice, you should plan early to avoid disappointment.

Find out more about making arrangements for a civil partnership.

Interpreters

The onus is on the couple to provide an interpreter who will be required to sign a declaration that he/she is able to understand the language in which he/she is to act as an interpreter at the civil partnership registration.

After the registration, the interpreter must give the person registering the civil partnership a certificate written in English and signed by the interpreter that he/she has faithfully acted as interpreter at the civil partnership proceedings.

Objections

An objection to a civil partnership can be lodged with the Registrar at any time between the notice being submitted and the registration taking place.

Penalty for making a false statement

A person, who makes a false statement to register or prevent a civil partnership is guilty of perjury and could be liable for prosecution.

Civil partnership outside the UK and Republic of Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland and want to register your civil partnership outside the UK or Republic of Ireland, you must check with the registration service of the country where you want the registration to take place. There may be certain requirements or documents you need to provide.

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