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Advice

Conversion of civil partnership to a marriage in England and Wales

You can either follow a simple administrative process called a ‘standard conversion’ or follow a two-stage process.

Does being married make any difference to my legal rights and responsibilities in comparison to being in a civil partnership?

There are no significant practical differences to your legal rights and responsibilities as civil partnership and marriage are legally equivalent.

Can we convert our civil partnership to a marriage?

If you registered your civil partnership in England and Wales, or overseas in a consulate or armed forces base where the civil partnership was registered to the laws of England and Wales then, providing you are in a same-sex civil partnership, this can be converted into a marriage.

The effect of the conversion is for couples to transfer from one legal relationship (civil partnership) into another (marriage).

A civil partnership of the opposite-sex cannot be converted into a marriage in England and Wales.

How do we convert our civil partnership into a marriage?

You can either follow a simple administrative process called a ‘standard conversion’ or follow a two-stage process whereby the conversion is followed by a ceremony.

The ‘standard conversion’ can be done by attending an appointment at any register office, it does not need to be the same local authority which registered your civil partnership.

If you want to follow the two-stage process, then the first stage will involve attendance at a register office and the second part will be the ceremony which can be designed to suit you but must take place at a venue where same-sex marriages are allowed.

Do we need to give ‘notice’ of our intention to convert our civil partnership into a marriage?

No, as you are converting an already existing legal relationship. Therefore, unlike the rules for entering a new civil partnership or marriage, there is no notice period, residence requirement or waiting procedure.

Will it cost to convert our civil partnership into a marriage?

Yes, you will need to pay for the marriage certificate and there is also a set cost for the conversion. If you have opted for the two-stage process, there will also be the cost of an appointment with the Superintendent Registrar and the cost of the ceremony itself. The cost of the ceremony will vary depending upon venue.

We would recommend that you check the costs involved directly with your local authority register office. 

What documents are required to convert our civil partnership into a marriage?

You will both need to sign a ‘conversion into marriage’ declaration. You will need your civil partnership certificate, evidence of your name and date of birth and evidence of your address. We recommend that you ask your local register office what ID they accept.

What happens after the conversion process is complete?

You will be issued with a marriage certificate. Your marriage will be backdated, and your marriage certificate will confirm that you have been married since the date in which you entered your civil partnership.

What if I live in Scotland or Northern Ireland?

There are different rules for a converting a civil partnership to a marriage in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss further.

For further guidance on civil partnership conversions, contact our family law solicitors.

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