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Civil Partnerships for Heterosexual Couples?

A heterosexual couple have lost their legal battle to be allowed to enter into a civil partnership. Rebecca Steinfeld, 34, and Charles Keidan, 39, are both academics who live in Hammersmith, west London and are engaged and have been in a relationship for over five years. The couple also have a young son together.

The couple feel that they cannot get married as they view marriage as a patriarchal institution. The couple have launched a petition which has gathered over 65,000 signatures from supporters. On the petition website, the couple make it clear they would not feel comfortable gaining legal recognition of their relationship through marriage, ‘From a personal perspective, the legacy of marriage – that it treated women as property for centuries, excluded same-sex couples until 2014, and still leaves room only for fathers’ names on marriage certificates – means that marriage is not an option for us. We want to raise our child as equal partners and feel that a civil partnership – a modern, symmetrical institution – sets the best example for her.’

Under current laws, civil partnerships are only available to same sex couples. Steinfeld and Keidan challenged this on the basis that it infringed their Article 8 right to a private and family life. They argued that they were being denied the ability to gain legal recognition of their relationship.

The judge did not agree with the couple's claims and said, “This is not a case where they cannot achieve formal state recognition of their relationship, with all the rights, benefits and protections that flow from such recognition; on the contrary, it is open to them to obtain that recognition by getting married.”

However, the judge did give the couple permission to appeal, and they vow to continue their fight. The judge also imposed a limitation on the couple’s liability for the government’s legal fees, should they be unsuccessful.


With so many of us choosing to cohabit, this case has opened an important discussion about the legal protections and recognition available to couples who choose not to marry. Many couples consider marriage to be an outdated institution that does not reflect their relationship. Many couples will move in together and never get around to marrying.

Cohabitation numbers are expected to continue to rise but there are little protections in place currently.
In you are in a cohabiting relationship you should consider a cohabitation agreement. This allows you and your partner to discuss matters and come to an agreement about who will get what if you separate in the future.

It might seem unromantic to think about splitting up as you are looking forward to living together. However, having a cohabitation agreement in place could make any future separation much easier and could help to prevent unnecessary stress at a very difficult time.

Cohabitation Lawyers Glasgow

Contact our expert team today by completing our online enquiry form to discuss cohabitation agreements.

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