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ONS Civil Partnership Statistics Ask More Questions Of Government

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) today has published the latest figures about Civil Partnerships. They are interesting reading.

Civil Partnerships are only available to coupes of the same sex. They were introduced in 2004 as an alternative to same sex marriage, at a time when the then Government did not want to go the whole way and allow same sex couples to marry.

In 2013 marriage became available for same sex as well as opposite sex couples and since then the popularity of Civil Partnerships has fallen considerably.

In the first 12 months when Civil Partnerships were available, nearly 15,000 took place. In 2017 there were just 908 Partnerships, 604 between men and 286 between women. Admittedly a large part of the drop was a a result of same sex couples being allowed to marry, however the numbers are still very low.

The only thing which is likely to alter this downward trend is if the present Government widens their scope to allow opposite sex couple to become Civil Partners.

In June this year The Supreme Court decided that a heterosexual couple’s human rights had been wrongly interfered with by being denied the ability to enter in to a Civil Partnership. They did not want to marry for sincerely held ideological reasons.

The Government accepted that there was an inequality of treatment between same sex and opposite sex couples but asked for more time to decide what to do. The Supreme Court was not prepared to give the Government any more time. It had already had enough.

The Government now has to make up its mind. Does it extend Civil Partnerships to opposite sex couples or abolish Civil Partnerships altogether? These new statistics may encourage it to do the latter.

While nearly twice the number of men as opposed to women still enter in to Civil Partnerships, what the statistics reveal is a surprising difference in the rate of dissolution of those relationships.

In 2017 there were many more Civil Partnerships between younger women which broke down than those between younger men but that trend was reversed among those who were aged 60 or over.

Civil Partnerships are still very much worth considering, and couples intending to do so should always consider a Pre-Partnership Agreement, very much akin to a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, and always obtain expert advice if the relationship fails just as they would if they were married.

Graham was based at the firm's London family law office. His career as a family law specialist has spanned three decades. He is an experienced advocate, mediator and arbitrator who has worked in all areas of family law.

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