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Landmark Ruling in Civil Partnership case

On 27th June 2018 the Supreme Court handed down judgement in the case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan who had been involved in a three and a half year struggle regarding the right of opposite sex couples to enter into civil partnerships.

Civil partnerships were introduced in December 2005 for same sex couples only. Same sex couples were able to marry from March 2014. Steinfeld and Keidan did not wish to marry as they regarded the institution of marriage as patriarchal and sexist. Instead, they wished to enter into a civil partnership as they felt that this would reflect their values and lend legal recognition to the equal nature of their  committed and long term relationship. They sought judicial review of the government’s decision not to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples on the basis that it discriminated against them and breached their human rights. They lost in the High Court and the Court of Appeal but won their appeal in the Supreme Court.

The government equality office is now understood to be considering a thorough review of civil partnerships – however there are only two ways forward – either to abolish them all together – raising a question mark over the legal status of existing same sex civil partnerships or to extend them to opposite sex couples.

Since the couple started their legal battle they have had two children. Interestingly, instead of giving the children  solely their father’s surname or double-barrelling the two surnames (which they considered to be patriarchal) they have given them the fused family surname of Keidstein. I can’t help thinking that this is easier to do with some surnames than with others!

This case raises interesting questions over whether the institution of marriage is fit for purpose in  modern day society when there are very many different family models, rather than just the traditional nuclear family unit.

If you require a modern approach to family law issues it is recommended that you contact Head of Family Law, Joanna Toloczko at Meaby & Co for timely advice: jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk or call 0207 703 5034.

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