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The media reported this week that a couple have begun a legal battle at the High Court against the ban on heterosexual couples entering into a civil partnership.

Civil partnerships, which came into effect in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 grant same-sex couples similar rights to those of married couples. The act specifies that the individuals entering into the civil partnership must be two people of the same sex. Therefore, heterosexual couples are excluded from entering into civil partnerships. The couple in question, Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, from London are seeking to challenge this.

Mr Keidan and Miss Steinfeld – and many others – view civil partnership as a modern alternative to marriage, which would recognise their relationship in law and grant them similar rights to those of married couples. In practice, this could mean that partners in a heterosexual relationship may have an obligation to provide financial support to one another upon separation, which is not currently the case.

It has been said that the current law in this regard has not kept pace with changes in society. Some may argue that extending the right to enter into a civil partnership to heterosexual couples would bring matrimonial law into the 21st Century. It could certainly have a profound effect on the institution of marriage as heterosexual couples would effectively have an alternative option.

We eagerly await the High Court’s decision in Mr Keidan and Miss Steinfeld case.

You can read more about the case on the BBC website.

For more information on family law matters, contact our Family team.