Published: 28 October 2015
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have published figures revealing that 15,098 same-sex marriages have taken place since they were first introduced in England and Wales on 29th March 2014 by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
The figures, which looked at the total number of same-sex marriages that occurred from 29th March 2014 to 30th June 2015, include 7,732 civil partnership conversions. The conversion of civil partnerships to same-sex marriages took place on 10th December 2014, allowing same-sex couples to choose between a simple registration or a formal ceremony attended by family and friends.
The introduction of same-sex marriages and the ability to convert civil partnerships to same-sex marriages has affected the overall number of couples entering into a civil partnership, with 1,683 civil partnerships formed in 2014 compared to 5,646 formed in 2013, representing a 70% decline. There were 314 civil partnerships formed in December 2013 compared with only 58 in December of the following year, which represents a fall of 84%.
The couples who converted their civil partnerships to same-sex marriages were an even split between men and women, however, of the 7,366 same-sex marriages that occurred, 4,059 (55%) of them were between women and 3,307 (45%) were between men.
These figures suggest that women, more so than men, value the security and the commitment which marriage represents however statistically, more women choose to dissolve their civil partnership then men. Whether the same trend will occur with same-sex marriages remain to be seen and will become much clearer from March 2016 once same-sex marriages have been legal for a year, as married couples have to wait for at least a year before they can divorce.
When civil partnerships were first introduced in 2005, there was an immediate flood of same-sex couples keen to take up this option, with 1,227 registered civil partnerships in the first three days of the new law taking effect. Same-sex marriages on the other hand, has experienced a slower uptake with only 98 same-sex marriages taking place in the first three days since they were introduced.
This could be down to the fact that at the time, civil partnerships were the only option for same-sex couples when they were introduced, where as today, same-sex couples have more options available to them then they did have 10 years ago.
The decline in the number of same-sex couples opting for civil partnerships could suggest that same-sex couples are choosing to get married instead, which could question the validity of civil partnerships in the future if the current decline continues. Recently, civil partnerships for heterosexual couples have been discussed in Parliament as a result of a new Bill proposed by Tory MP Tim Loughton, who believes that current legislation has created "a new and substantial inequality" because civil partnerships are only available for same-sex couples. The full story on this proposed Bill can be viewed here.
The team at K J Smith Solicitors have many years of experience in dealing with issues relating to civil partnerships, so if your relationship is on the verge of a breakdown and you are unsure of the options available to you, speak to our team today and we will advise on the best course of action to take. For more information or to arrange a free consultation with a member of our team, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) or 01483 370100 (Guildford) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.