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Same-sex couples and succession

This content applies to England

Changes introduced by the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

Civil Partnership Act 2004

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005, and gave same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples in relation to succession and most other purposes.[1]

The Act means that civil partners have the same rights as married couples, and couples living together as civil partners have the same rights as couples living together as married couples. 

Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

Under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 same-sex couples are able to get married in England and Wales.

With effect from 13 March 2014, existing legislation, including that relating to succession, is to be interpreted so that a reference to:[2]

  • marriage is to be read as including a reference to marriage of a same-sex couple
  • a husband includes a man who is married to another man
  • a wife includes a woman married to another woman.

The distinction under existing legislation, by which an unmarried opposite sex couple are treated as if married, while an unmarried same sex couple not in a civil partnership are treated as if in a civil partnership, is maintained.[3]


For the specific rules governing succession to different types of occupancy when the occupant dies see the other pages in this section.  Where a landlord refuses to recognise a succession because of the sexual orientation of the potential successor, the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 will be relevant. For more information see the page Discrimination in relation to premises.

[1] Sch.8 and 9 Civil Partnership Act 2004. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 has been amended to apply to both same-sex and opposite sex couples (see reg.1(1) Civil Partnership Act 2004 as amended by reg.3 Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019 SI 2019/1458).

[2] Sch.3 Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

[3] Sch.3 Pt.1(2) Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

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