Opposite sex couples in West Sussex will be able to enter into civil partnerships from New Year’s Eve (Tuesday, December 31).
West Sussex County Council said opposite sex couples could give their notice of intent to form a civil partnership from Monday, December 2.
The signing of the schedule or a ceremony can then take place from New Year’s Eve (Tuesday 31 December).
For the past 15 years, civil partnerships were exclusive to same sex couples, as until the introduction of same sex marriage in 2014 there was no other way to formalise their relationship – as only opposite sex couples could marry.
But earlier this year, Parliament passed the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Act – a private member’s bill introduced by West Sussex MP Tim Loughton – paving the way for civil partnerships to be extended to opposite sex couples.
A civil partnership is a contract which must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, whereas a marriage legally must involve a ceremony with public declarations by both parties.
Lesley Sim, Head of Libraries, Heritage and Registration at the county council, said: “The announcement of civil partnerships for opposite sex couples is great news and allows people who wish to show their lifelong commitment to their partner to do so without having to have an official marriage ceremony.
“Our registrars are ready and waiting to perform civil partnerships and help more people create a union that is just right for them.”
There is still availability for couples to book a notice of intent on Monday 2 December for a civil partnership to take place on Tuesday 31 December, a spokesman said.
The Ceremonies team is available to give couples further advice and take bookings, confirmed the spokesman.
Are you planning to be one of the first heterosexual couples to get a civil partnership in West Sussex? If you would like to share your story with us, get in touch with our reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org