The number of civil partnerships held in England and Wales dropped by a precipitous 70 per cent last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported.
In 2013, 5,646 civil partnerships were formed, but by the end of last year there had been just 1,683 according to the newly published statistics. This significant decline followed the introduction of same sex marriages across England and Wales in March last year.
The average age for couples entering civil partnerships has increased meanwhile: for men it is now 43.6 years and for women a slightly younger 42.3 years. These averages represent an increase of three years for men and four years for women in just a year.
In addition, male same sex couples make up the majority of new civil partners: 57 per cent per cent. Just two years ago the majority of civil partners were women, suggesting that a greater number of women in same sex relationships now prefer full marriage.
The number of civil partnership dissolutions, meanwhile, has increased by just under nine per cent since 2013.
Paul Read is a Partner in Stowe Family Law’s London office. He discussed the statistics with BBC Radio Sussex and a number of other stations this morning. The ONS figures revealed an undeniable drift away from civil partnerships towards marriage, he suggested. The latter provides same sex couples with a way to publicly declare their commitment to each other in a more traditional, readily understood way.
Meanwhile, the fact that civil partnerships remain an option for same sex couples only continues to fuel controversy, with a private member’s bill which would extend civil partnerships to straight couples recently debated in the House of Commons. A heterosexual couple who wish to enter a civil partnership also launched a legal challenge to existing laws late last year.
Read the ONS statistics in full here.