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The Manx Nationalist Party - Advocating Republican Independence since 1963


The following submission was made to the Isle of Man General Registry in response to consultation on the concept of Civil Partnerships. June 2005

 
Followng the UK's passing of a Civil Partnership Act, the government in the Isle of Man is considering changes and have asked for public  consultation on the issue.

The UK legislation is aimed specifically at recognising "same sex" relationships.

Mec Vannin's views do not regard this as the central issue but merely a an element of it and the Party recommends any legislation changes to be entirely "stand-alone" Manx legislation.

The original consultation document may be found at the Island's General Registry website, via http://www.gov.im

The Mec Vannin response is given below:

Mec Vannin has considered the concept of Civil Partnership and believes that individuals could benefit from a legal partnership that differs from marriage, which has a specific function.

The Party did not reference UK legislation, believing that such concepts such be built upon first principles.

We note that the consultative document dwells heavily upon the concept of same sex partnerships. Whilst accepting that same-sex couples would form a large part of those wishing to take advantage of any change, the Party's thoughts on the subject did not regard this as the primary objective of any change. Indeed, it was felt that to treat this as a facility for "gay marriage" was potentially detrimental and would attract reactionary opposition.

There are instances outside of sexual partnerships where two people may wish (or are even forced) to share their lives without any legal recognition of their mutual status. One example is siblings who may end up sharing a family home. They have shared expenses but will be treated as separate entities for tax purposes, which may be disadvantageous.

Even friends may share lives on a long-term basis and wish their shared expenses to be legally acknowledged. Furthermore, Wills in favour of friends can be challenged by a next of kin.

The consultation document claims that legal agreements can be entered into where two people share their accommodation to protect their assets from challenge in the event of an acrimonious dissolution of the partnership, but this does not provide the positive benefits to be derived from the legal recognition of shared expenses. Conversely, whereas the Treasury does not recognise a cohabiting couple as a unit for tax purposes, the DHSS can deem a co-habiting couple as a unit for benefit purposes. This is an unsupportable inequality of treatment that must be addressed.

Given the forgoing, it is clear that the Party does not forsee any need to scrap or change the current marriage processes. Having said that, clear legal and moral difficulties would arise if a married person tried to enter into a legal partnership with another person. Hence, we agree that any civil partnership must be mutually exclusive with any other partnership, civil or marriage.

This does leave the question about if more than two people share the partnership. There was a concensus that this could, indeed, be  accommodated.

The Party believes that the essential requirements and terms for a civil partnership should be as follows:

The persons should intend living at the same address and sharing their living expenses. They must be free of any incumberances from any other legal partnership in any jurisdiction (other than business partnerships).

They must have reached the legal age of majority.

In the absence of a Manx Citizenship, all parties must be classified as Isle of Man workers under the Control of Employment Act. The civil partnership would not be available as a tool to circumvent immigration / employment law.

All parties must understand the desirability of taking legal advice if they have not done so.

The civil partnership contract would give legal recognition to those in the contract as a single unit for tax and benefit purposes i.e. all incomes would be considered as one, personal allowances applied on an accrued basis, and all dispensations similarly applied. The same would apply to benefits.

The partners would have next of kin status with each other.

Whilst stressing that this is not seen as a replacement for marriage, any children born within the partnership should be legitimate and the father given parental rights as a matter of course (presuming him to be one of the civil partners).

The agreement should take a standard form, according such rights and status as outlined above. Additionally, however, supplimentary clauses could be added by mutual agreement regarding details of assets division in the event of dissolution.

Dissolution of the partnership.

The partnership could be dissolved at any time by mutual agreement of all parties.

Any one of the partners could apply for dissolution of the partnership should the living arrangements alter. If opposed, then the Court would have to sit in judgement.

Possible reasons would be apparently permanent physical separation, the desire of one of the parties to marry or to enter another partnership.

Other matters

Whereas the existance of any form of active civil partnership in any jurisdiction must form an absolute bar to forming a Manx civil partnership, civil partnerships entered into in another jurisdiction should have no recognition under Manx law.

A change in circumstance would not automatically require a nullification of the civil partnership: At least one partner would be likely to be financially disadvantaged by leaving the partnerhip active after cohabitation ceased and so it would be in their best interest to seek nullification at the earliest opportunity.

Ther would be no requirement for public notification of the forming or dissolving of a partnership, but the partnership would have to be a matter of permanent Public Record.

The signing of the partnership would have to be witnessed by a recognised legal official such as a Commissioner for Oaths.

The civil partnership, whilst according certain rights to both children and parents within the partnership, would not over-ride the protections afforded by the Family Law Act.

The proposed partnership, although potentially much easier to dissolve than a marriage, would probably be slightly more difficult to enter into in the first place: Lawyers would almost certainly be involved and, given the potential for financial damage to parties, we do not forsee the frivolous use of such an arrangement.

END

June 2005

 
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