A lot has been said and written about the new Civil Partnerships Act but what is it really all about?
Basically the Civil Partnerships Act allows all de facto couples (whether heterosexual or same sex) to formalise their commitment to each other and this union will be registered at the Births Deaths and Marriages Registry, just like a traditional marriage.
The first of these ceremonies was held on 5th March 2012.
And, just like a marriage, if the parties want to terminate their Civil Partnership, they will need to apply to the Court to dissolve the union. However unlike married couples, an Order made by the Court takes effect on the day the Order is made, so there is no waiting 30 days for the Order to become absolute.
So what does this new Act mean for couples?
Well, for separating heterosexual de facto couples, there is really no change. Heterosexual de facto couples will continue to enjoy the same rights for property settlement that they presently do, which are the same rights as for married couples. However, by formalising the relationship it takes away any argument as to whether a de facto relationship exists. This will provide more certainty to the parties that their relationship will be governed by Family Law.
In the case of same sex couples it means the public and government’s formal recognition of their relationship. It takes away any argument as to whether a couple are in fact in a de facto relationship.
One of the biggest impacts will be on a person’s Will and Power of Attorney. Presently a Will or Power of Attorney is only revoked upon the marriage of the person however, should a person now enter into a Civil Partnership, that union will also automatically revoke a person’s Will and Power of Attorney unless there is a contrary intention shown in the document.
Therefore it is important for a person entering into a Civil Partnership to make sure that they have a valid and enforceable Will and Power of Attorney.