Published: 13 September 2016
The Office for National Statistics has revealed figures highlighting the impact that Same Sex Marriages have had on Civil Partnership registrations in England and Wales.
Since the introduction of Same Sex Marriages in March 2014, the number of Civil Partnership registrations has decreased by 49%. During 2014, there were 1,683 Civil Partnership registrations, compared to only 861 throughout 2015 and, furthermore, the statistics reveal that Civil Partnership registrations have fallen 85% since 2013.
How have Civil Partnerships Changed?
Over the past few years, the average age of people forming a civil partnership has increased. The average age of men forming their partnership was 40.8 years in 2013, but this had increased to 48.5 years in 2015, and the average age for women increased from 37.9 years in 2013 to 49.1 years in 2015. In 2015, 48% of Civil Partnerships that were formed were between partners aged 50 and above. In comparison, in 2013, before Same Sex Marriages were introduced, just 19% of partners were 50 and over.
Two-thirds of partnerships formed in 2015 were between men, which is the highest proportion since 2005 - when Civil Partnerships were first introduced. When Civil Partnerships first came into force, male partnerships were more prevalent, however, between the years of 2009 and 2013, the proportions evened out, with the percentage of male partnerships fluctuating between 47% and 52%. Comparatively, the introduction of Same Sex Marriages saw more female couples marry than male couples between March 2014 and June 2015.
Civil Partnership Dissolutions
During 2015, there was a 14% increase from 2014 in Civil Partnership dissolutions, with a total of 1,211, compared to 1,061 in 2014. By the end of 2015, it was estimated that the percentage of partnerships that ended in dissolution was 6.8% for men and 11.7% for women.
Commenting on behalf of the Office for National Statistics, Elizabeth McLaren said: ‘Civil partnership dissolutions have increased due to the rising number of civil partnerships that were formed since they were introduced in December 2005. Dissolutions are likely to reduce in the future as more same sex couples form marriages instead of civil partnerships.’
Is there a future for Civil Partnerships?
Within the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, there were a number of provisions, which came into force in December 2014, that are related to Civil Partnerships. Civil partners have the opportunity to convert their partnership into a same sex marriage if they wish to and they are also able to legally change their gender without ending their existing marriage.
It is clear from the statistics that more same sex couples are choosing to get married rather than enter into a Civil Partnership and this is a trend that will no doubt continue into the future, however this might not necessarily spell the end for Civil Partnerships. We reported in a previous blog that Heterosexual couples have been allowed to enter into a Civil Partnership for the first time in the Isle of Man.
There have been a number of groups calling for Civil Partnerships to be introduced for heterosexual couples to level the playing field as, currently, same sex couples have a legal advantage as they have the option of both a Civil Partnership and a Same Sex Marriage, whereas heterosexual couples only have the option of traditional marriage.
The law in England and Wales clearly states that couples need to be of the same sex at the time of their civil partnership registration, which means that despite the new legislation on the Isle of Man, the courts in England and Wales have no choice but to refer any case of this nature to Parliament.
If couples from England and Wales start to visit the Isle of Man to obtain a Civil Partnership, it is only a matter of time until the government is forced to decide whether they will recognise heterosexual civil partnerships conducted on the Isle of Man, which may then lead to Civil Partnerships for all being introduced in England and Wales.
At K J Smith Solicitors, our team of family law specialists have many years of experience inissues relating to civil partnerships and traditional divorce. If you wish to discuss your circumstances to see how we can help, contact us today to arrange your free 45 minute consultation on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor),01256 584000 (Basingstoke) 01483 370100 (Guildford) or 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield).