A new legal status, created by the Civil Partnership Act 2004, that confers analogous rights to those conferred by marriage on same-sex couples who register their relationship. To be eligible to form a civil partnership, the parties must be over 16 years of age, of the same sex, and not related to each other within the prohibited degrees. The partnership can be dissolved by the granting by a court of a dissolution order, on proof by the applicant that the partnership has irretrievably broken down. This must be evidenced by one of four facts: (1) that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner can no longer be reasonably expected to live with him; (2) that the applicant and the respondent have lived apart for at least two years and the respondent consents to a dissolution order being made; (3) that the applicant and the respondent have lived apart for at least five years; (4) that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for at least two years. On the dissolution of a partnership, the courts have powers to make provision for financial relief that mirror those contained in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for married couples. A civil partner can now obtain, in the same way as a spouse, matrimonial home rights (now known simply as home rights) and has the same rights as a spouse in relation to inheritance under the intestacy rules and under the Inheritance (Provision for family and dependants) Act 1975. The Children Act 1989 as amended now gives a civil partner the same rights as a step-parent to apply for parental responsibility in respect of a child.
Statutory instruments issued under the authority of the Finance Act 2005 (s 103) have the effect that civil partners are treated for tax purposes as if they were married persons. Thus, a transfer of assets (whether at death or during lifetime) from one civil partner to the other is exempt from inheritance tax. No capital gain is triggered by the gift of an asset from one civil partner to the other. When a settlement is established under which it is possible for a settlor's civil partner to receive benefit, income and gains arising are taxed on the settlor, in the same way as would apply if it were possible for the settlor's spouse to receive benefit.