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Ask The Legal Expert- Marriage V Civil Partnership

View profile for Angela Killa
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"My partner has just proposed to me and we are very excited about our future together. We are in a same-sex relationship but we don’t know whether to get married or have a civil partnership. What’s the difference?"

Firstly - congratulations on your engagement. You are right, there are some practical and legal differences between a marriage and a civil partnership which you should be aware of before you make your choice.

The first is that you cannot call yourself married if you form a civil partnership and vice versa. And you will need to decide on either a marriage or a civil partnership before making arrangements since a notice of marriage should be given by both of you in the registration district(s) in which you live in the days ahead of your marriage, whereas notice of a civil partnership should be given within the local authority.

Your marriage could be conducted via either a civil ceremony or a religious ceremony if the religious organisation has agreed to solemnise marriages of same-sex couples.

However, your civil partnership can only be a civil event. So, whilst you can arrange a ceremony this doesn’t form part of the legalities. You are free to hold a service in a religious venue, but a civil partnership is formed solely by the signing of a legal document, rather than by the recitation of the official words you are used to hearing at a wedding.

Marriages are registered on paper in a hard copy register, while a civil partnership is recorded on an electronic register. Marriage certificates include the names of the fathers of the parties whereas civil partnership certificates include the names of both sets of parents. 

If your relationship ends, the process for dissolving a marriage or a civil partnership is similar.  

Whether you marry or form a civil partnership, you will be treated in the same way regarding pensions and state pensions in the event of your partner’s death, regardless of your sex.

Whichever option you decide upon, I wish you both every happiness. 

For more information, contact Angela on 01267 248893 or by email at:

For further advice, please contact our specialist Family Solicitors in:

  • Swansea: 01792 773773
  • Cardiff: 02920 225472
  • Carmarthen: 01267 234022
  • Caerphilly: 02920 860628
  • Cowbridge: 01446 771742
  • Haverfordwest: 01437 764723
  • Fishguard: 01348 873671

This question is based on a hypothetical situation.