Published: 17th October 2013
Recent figures published by the Office of National Statistics have shown that civil partnership dissolutions increased by 20% in 2012 vs 2011 and have more than doubled since 2010. A dissolution of a Civil Partnership occurs when one or both parties in a same-sex relationship apply to end (or dissolve) a civil partnership that has lasted for at least one year. Civil partnership dissolution is the same-sex equivalent of a marital divorce, with the processes and application being very similar.
When introduced in 2005, the British Government originally expected fewer than 90,000 people to be in civil partnerships by 2050. But by the end of 2012, 120,908 people were in civil partnerships. In 2012, 794 partnerships ended in dissolution, a 20% increase vs 2011.
A spokesman for the UK’s Office for National Statistics said this increase, while high, is not surprising.
He said: "It is to be expected that it would continue to rise. As the number of people in civil partnerships increases each year, the dissolutions will keep rising for quite a while."
This means same-sex dissolutions are moving towards similar levels for heterosexual divorces, not that gay and lesbian couples are any more or less likely to split up.
The average age of people who file for divorce is between 40 - 45, but for civil partners wishing to separate it was much younger, in particularly women, who were aged in their 20s and 30s. Also, almost one third of all civil partnerships that dissolved in 2012 were women under the age of 40, with women also twice as likely as men to end a civil partnership.
Some experts think that the 'seven year itch' might also be coming into play - as we have just passed the eight year mark since civil partnerships were first introduced.
The 'seven year itch' theory is certainly plausible, given that same-sex and heterosexual couples often have similar problems and reasons for wanting to end their relationships, but the similarities don't end there. Most divorces take place on average between four and eight years into the marriage.
Whilst some sections of the British media referred to civil partnerships as 'gay marriages', the government moved swiftly to clear up any confusion, insisting that civil partnerships were not the same as marriages. Legislation that allows same-sex marriages was passed in England and Wales earlier this year in July and is expected to come into force by July 2014. By this time, any couples who are registered in a civil partnership will be able to convert their partnership into a marriage in accordance with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act of 2013.
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