Number of civil partnerships fall for second straight year

Divorce rates between heterosexual couples hit 45-year low

The number of couples entering into a civil partnership has fallen for the second straight year following the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2013.  

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows there were only 861 civil partnerships registered in England and Wales in 2015, falling 49 per cent from 1,683 in 2014. Nearly half of these partnerships were between those aged 50 and over.

The decline in the popularity of civil partnerships has been attributed to the legalisation of same sex marriage three years ago.

Amanda Rimmer, family law partner at Stephensons, said: “It comes as no surprise that the civil partnership figures have declined for yet another year since the introduction of same-sex marriage back in 2014.

“However, what remains surprising is – despite now being able to marry - the number of people still choosing to enter civil partnerships. 861 couples - enough for the ONS to report on - still opted for the more ‘contractual’ happily ever after.

“For centuries the connotations of a marriage and a weddings have had religious undertones. We are not too detached from the time when weddings only took place in churches to be conducted by clergymen.

“Today, a wedding ceremony no longer needs to include any of these details, but somehow the ringing of church bells still seems to echo in many ears as the spouses-to-be say their ‘I do’s’.”

According to the ONS, the majority – 84 per cent - of those entering a civil partnership has never married or formed a civil partnership before, something Amanda suggests is linked to the average age of those pursuing this type of union.

“Civil partnerships can provide a more ‘fuss-free’ approach the marriage, giving same sex couples the opportunity to follow a more practical, contractual route to cement their relationships.”

“Many of these couples might have already been in long term relationships and simply want the legal and financial security which can come with a civil partnership, whilst disposing with the connotations sometimes associated with marriage.”