Since the enactment of the Marriages Act [Chapter 5:17] hereinafter referred to as “the Act”, there have been mixed views on the interpretation and meaning of a civil partnership amongst the general public. This article seeks to define what it is and highlights the prerequisites of such a relationship.

A civil partnership is defined in section 41 of the Act, as:

(1) A relationship between a man and a woman who—

(a) Are both over the age of eighteen years; and

(b) Have lived together without legally being married to each other; and

(c) Are not within the degrees of affinity or consanguinity as provided in section 7; and

(d) Having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis; shall be regarded as being in a civil partnership for the purposes of determining the rights and obligations of the parties on dissolution of the relationship and, for this purpose, sections 7 to 11 of the Matrimonial Causes Act [Chapter 5:13] shall,with necessary changes, apply on the dissolution of the relationship.

There are aspects that are taken into account when looking at the existence of a civil partnership. The court takes into account the factors listed below when making its determination on whether a civil partnership existed, including:

  • the duration of the relationship;
  • the nature and extent of their common residence;
  • whether a sexual relationship exists;
  • the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them;
  • the ownership, use and acquisition of their property;
  • the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
  • the care and support of children;
  • the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

It should be noted that a civil partnership is NOT a marriage but rather a relationship respected in terms of the laws of the country for purposes of sharing property upon its dissolution and maintenance where it applies.

This is for general information purposes – seek the advice of your Lawyer

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