Civil Partnerships

Civil partnerships were initially introduced to provide legal recognition and protection for same-sex couples who were not allowed to marry. Over time, this has expanded to include mixed-sex couples as well.

civil partnerships
Claire Christie - Legal Director of Family Law

Claire Christie

Head of Family Law


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Garden Stirling Burnet Staff

Rebecca Duncan

Business Support Administrator


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Garden Stirling Burnet Staff

Sophie Greig



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Garden Stirling Burnet Staff

Lesley Holburn

Secretary/Legal Executive


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They are a wonderful alternative for those who do not wish to marry in the traditional sense with religious connotations, but rather who want to formalise their relationship in a contemporary way in line with their values and beliefs.

Here at Garden Stirling Burnet, our friendly and experienced Family Law solicitors can help you navigate all the complexities involved. Whether you are looking to register a civil partnership, draft a pre-civil partnership agreement, or require advice on the legal intricacies of dissolving civil partnerships.

What are civil partnerships?

A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship brought into legislation with the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 for same-sex couples and then with the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020 which extended it to mixed-sex couples.

You can register for one if you are over 16; neither of you is already married or in a civil partnership; you are not relatives who are legally forbidden from registering; and you both understand the nature of the agreement.

Registering civil partnerships

When you decide to take this exciting step, you will need to give notice of your intention to register with the District Registrar in the area you wish to have a civil partnership, by completing a Civil Partnership Notice Form. It is important to do this no later than 29 days before your intended date, but 10–12 weeks is advisable.

This form includes personal details along with the date and place where the civil partnership is to be registered. You will also need to provide your birth certificates and pay a statutory fee.  

The Registrar’s Office will display the notice for 28 days, allowing objections if any. Should none arise, then you will receive a Civil Partnership Schedule, granting you the ability to register within three months.

Further information on registering can be found on The National Records of Scotland website.

Legal differences between a civil partnership and marriage

There is no significant difference when it comes to the legal status of a civil partnership compared to a marriage and each party is entitled to certain rights including those relating to pensions, tax, inheritance, and child maintenance.

What differs is the signing of a civil partnership schedule as opposed to a marriage schedule. There are also no vows at a such a ceremony.

Financial and parental responsibilities will stay as they would in a marriage, unless you sign a pre-civil partnership agreement.

Backed by our in-depth knowledge, we are here to answer any questions that you may have concerning your rights to ensure that you have a clear and practical understanding.

Entering a Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement

It is worth noting that when entering a civil partnership drawing up a pre-civil partnership agreement, similar to a prenuptial agreement, can make sense in protecting any assets such as property that you bring into the relationship.

Should you wish to pursue this option, we can work with you to help you draft and prepare an agreement and set out what each person is entitled to should the relationship break down.

Civil Partnerships and Dissolution

In the unfortunate event of a Civil Partnership Dissolution, our compassionate and supportive team at Garden Stirling Burnet is here to guide you sensitively through this challenging time. We address any consequences that may arise and work towards a fair and equitable resolution.

The grounds for dissolution and divorce are the same, and you can follow the simplified or ordinary procedure, depending on whether there are children under the age of 16 involved. Please refer to our page on Separation Agreements.

What differs is the grounds for ‘irretrievable breakdown’.

For married couples:

  • Unreasonable behaviour (such as domestic abuse)
  • Adultery
  • Two years separation
  • One year separation with the other spouse’s content

For civil partners:

  • Unreasonable behaviour (such as domestic abuse)
  • Two years separation
  • One year separation with the other spouse’s content

Adultery as grounds for divorce is not available with civil partnerships.

Upon dissolution, the full range of financial claims are available as they would be on divorce.

Contact Garden Stirling Burnet for all your civil partnerships questions

A civil partnership is an important milestone in your life. Whether you are at the start or facing the prospect of a dissolution, we are here to guide you through the process.

If you have any questions regarding your civil partnership journey, need advice or are ready to take the next step, let us help. Contact us today.

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