Heterosexual couples in England and Wales will be able to choose a civil partnership over getting married.
Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a change to the system, which currently leaves the option open only to same-sex couples.
The move will give greater financial protection to cohabiting partners who are currently not eligible for tax reliefs and exemptions for spouses and civil partners, including the inheritance tax exemption and the marriage income tax allowance.
The decision comes three months after Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, won a legal bid at the UK’s highest court for the right to have a civil partnership instead of marriage.
Mrs May said: “This change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalise their relationship but don’t necessarily want to get married.
“As home secretary, I was proud to sponsor the legislation that created equal marriage.
“Now, by extending civil partnerships, we are making sure that all couples, be they same-sex or opposite-sex, are given the same choices in life.”
Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt said: “This is an important step forward for equality.
“There are all sorts of reasons why people may choose not to marry.
“By giving couples this option we hope to give them and their families more certainty and security.
“I pay tribute to all who have campaigned for this change and will introduce the change as swiftly as possible.”
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who have two young daughters, had been prevented from having the union because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 said only same-sex couples were eligible.
The academics, from Hammersmith in west London, have “deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage” and were “not alone” in their views, according to their lawyer.
Many unmarried couples in a long-standing relationships believe that they have acquired rights similar to those of married couples but in fact there is no such thing as “common law marriage”, no matter how long a couple have lived together, even if they have children together.
In addition to ineligibility for tax exemptions, surviving cohabitants have no automatic right to inherit their partner’s estate, meaning they might not be able to afford to stay in the family home.
Unmarried couples also do not have a guaranteed right to ownership of each other’s property if their relationship breaks down.
Same-sex civil partnerships became law in 2004, and homosexual partners have been allowed to enter into marriage since 2014.
The announcement comes as the Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced new measures to tackle forced marriage.
This includes proposals to refuse spousal entry to the UK where there is evidence one has taken place.
From – SkyNews