Civil partnership and civil partnership divorce – 2012 review

An interesting research paper has just appeared on the Office for National Statistics website, written by Helen Ross, Karen Gask and Ann Berrington. It provides a useful summary of all the statistics collected on civil partnerships in the five years following December 2005 when the Civil Partnership Act came into force.

Many of the conclusions are perhaps unsurprising. Firstly, after a significant spike in 2006, the first full year when the Act had effect [and when almost 15,000 civil partnerships were entered into], the numbers of new civil partnerships entered into every year have declined – and now average between 5000 and 6000 annually.

Since 2005 and the end of 2006, a total of 42,778 civil partnerships were entered into by 85,556 people – this is considerably more than was anticipated by a government survey prior to introduction of the act – which estimated that there would be between 11k and 22k people in civil partnerships by 2010.

It appears there have been slightly more male civil partnerships [56%] than female – though initially, it appears that around two thirds of civil partnerships were two male couples, by 2010, more civil partnerships were, apparently, entered into by women. The report also makes it clear that the average age of civil partners is gradually coming down – the report’s authors suggest this might be because most initial civil partnerships were formed by couples in a long-standing, stable relationship.

Needless to say, civil partners are no different from married couples and their relationships are just as likely to break down. As a result, the number of those people applying for civil partnership dissolution [the correct term for same-sex or civil partnership divorce] has been gradually creeping up year-on-year. The report notes that by the end of 2010, there had been 1007 civil partnership dissolutions in England and Wales. The continuing rise is shown by more recent figures for 2011 – when a further civil partnership dissolutions were granted. It’s interesting to note that almost 65% of the couples seeking civil partnership dissolution in 2011 were female.

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