As of Wednesday 10th December civil partnerships can be converted to same-sex marriages. The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 made the marriage of same-sex couples lawful in England in Wales and the first marriage took place on 29th March 2014.
However, whilst the legislation did provide for civil partnerships to be converted into marriages this part of the legislation was not implemented in March and couples in civil partnerships have had to wait until now to convert their partnership into a marriage.
There are two options for conversion:
- Standard procedure at a register office in accordance with Regulation 6, whereby the couple attend before the superintendent registrar in a register office to convert their civil partnership. There is a fee of £45 for the standard procedure, which is waived if the civil partnership was formed before 29 March 2014 and is converted before 10 December 2015; or
- A two stage process where the conversion takes place at approved secular or religious premises in accordance with regulations 11 & 12, whereby the couple wish to convert their civil partnership on secular or religious premises at which marriages of same sex couples can take place. The fee for conversion at approved secular or religious premises will be higher but is reduced by £45 if the civil partnership was formed before 29 March 2014 and the conversion takes place before 10 December 2015.
In both cases the couples must attend before the superintendent at the register office before the conversion can take place to confirm the details of their civil partnership and their identities.
The parties must then sign the declaration in the presence of each other and the superintendent to confirm that they are currently in a civil partnership and wish to convert that civil partnership into a marriage, in accordance with regulation 3.
It is only when the declaration has been signed by both parties and the superintendent that the civil partnership is converted and the couple are legally married.
There are regulations which set out the procedure for converting a civil partnership into a same sex marriage: The Marriage of Same-Sex Couples (Conversion of Civil Partnership) Regulations 2014.
The regulations come into force on 10 December 2014 and conversions can take place from that date. A full version of the regulations can be found here: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/3181/made.