According to data published by the Office of National Statistics, the number of people entering into civil partnerships has risen for the first time since the introduction of same-sex marriage was announced in 2013.
Following new legislation enabling marriages of same-sex couples from March 2014, civil partnership have declined as the majority of same-sex couples opt to marry instead. However, 2016 represents the first increase in civil partnership formations since this change, showing that a minority of same-sex couples still prefer this option to marriage.
The ONS data shows an increase in new civil partnerships of 3.4 per cent (compared with 2015) in England and Wales. There were 890 new partnerships in 2016, with more than two-thirds of those being between men.
Almost half of civil partnerships formed were between those aged 50 or above, a significant increase on just 19 per cent in 2013. London continued to be the most popular region for the formation of civil partnerships; 38% of all formations in England and Wales in 2016 occurred in London.
Mandy Rimmer a partner and family law solicitor at Stephensons, said: “It would appear – for some at least – that civil partnerships still provide a very useful alternative to marriage.
“Marriage, with all its connotations, traditions and ritual isn’t for everyone. Civil partnerships provide a more contractual approach without any of the perceived obligations which a marriage ceremony might have. For some, it is simply a matter of practicality; the benefits of marriage – partnership enshrined in law, greater legal and financial security – but none of the pageantry.
“This is particularly true of the older generation. The average age of those entering civil partnerships has steadily risen in recent years and it would seem to be the case that marriage presents a less appealing prospect for those who are either settling down later in life or looking to ‘formalise’ an existing long-term relationship.
“Many will be keeping a close eye on the continued debate over opening civil partnerships up to heterosexual couples. If this were to happen, I would only expect a marginal increase in the number of civil partnerships given that it has not yet been shown there is a significant demand for a change in the law.”