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The Civil Partnerships Act 2004 is a ground-breaking piece of legislation which allows for the first time, adult same-sex couples to create a legal status similar to marriage, a 'Civil Partnership'. The Act received Royal Assent in November 2004 and is expected to come into force in late 2005/early 2006.
The purpose of the Act is to remedy the discrimination present in existing legislation, against gay and lesbian couples. It provides civil partners with the same rights and obligations as spouses and provides same sex couples who do not register as civil partners, with the same rights and obligations as unmarried opposite sex couples. It also amends a variety of existing statutes (including the Family Law Act 1996, the Children Act 1989 and the Inheritance Act 1975) and regulates: the registering and annulment of civil partnerships; the financial arrangements between civil partners; and property issues