Following on from our blog last month in respect to legislative change and same sex marriage, I continue to be asked by family, friends and colleagues alike whether couples in civil partnerships will now also be able to benefit under the new law and convert or “upgrade” their civil partnerships into a marriage.
Having successfully completed its journey through Parliament, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 will now afford for the first time for same sex couples, provided that notice of their intentions to marry has been given by 13 March 2014, to marry from the 29 March 2014. This historic and monumental change in the law relating to marriage also extends to couples already in civil partnerships being able to convert their partnerships into a marriage.
However, it would seem that those wishing to convert their civil partnerships or as some have referenced “upgrade” to an “equal” model, are now being told by Government that they will have to wait a while longer before they are going to be able to do so. In fact, couples wanting to “upgrade” will have to wait until the end of 2014 (no clear date as to when) before it will be possible for them to convert their civil partnerships. For one gay couple in Barnsley this is a wait that they are not prepared to stick out. The couple have now threatened legal action by way of Judicial Review against the Government for failure to implement the section of the legislation that deals with the conversion of civil partnerships. It will be a case therefore of ‘Watch this space!’
The procedure for conversions of civil partnerships into marriages remains unclear too. There will certainly need to be new procedures and processes implemented by Government, which will involve changes to IT systems, training and new designs of application forms. A fee will also almost certainly be required. However, what is certain is that from the 29 March 2014, although not everyone will be celebrating at the same time, there will finally be marriage equality in England & Wales.
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