The number of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales in 2017 totalled 908, an increase of two percent compared with 2016, representing the second annual increase since the introduction of same-sex marriages in 2013, according to data from the ONS.
Despite this increase, there were still more dissolutions (1217) granted in 2017, 57 percent of these were to female couples.
The increase in the number of civil partnership between 2016 and 2017 resulted from an eight percent rise (23) in civil partnerships between women, civil partnership formation among men decreased by 0.8 percent (five). However, 66 percent of civil partnerships formed in 2017 were between men.
In 2017, the average age of men forming a civil partnership (50.3 years) was higher than for women (49.5 years). 51 percent of those entering a civil partnership in 2017 were aged over 50, a significant increase from the 19 percent in 2013.
Scott Halliday, family law solicitor at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth, said: “It is very encouraging that there has been a 2 percent increase in uptake in 2017 as there has been strong inference from government that abolishment of civil partnerships is a real option moving forward. At a time where family law reform is desperately needed to suit modern society, this is a very troubling stance from the government. An increase in uptake reinforces the point that civil partnerships are a necessary and preferred route of relationship status for many couples and numbers would inevitably increase, potentially significantly, if heterosexual couples had this as an option.
“The argument in favour of abolishment has come under attack in Parliament through Tim Loughton MP’s private members bill which calls for a systematic assessment of the current situation, with a view to rectifying the current discrimination felt by heterosexual couples. The right approach has always been one that places equality of treatment at the forefront of the debate. This is an important family law issue which requires attention and significant reform.
“The increase in civil partnerships is welcomed at this stage as pressure continues to mount for the expansion of civil partnerships to heterosexual couples, with the Civil Partnership Act 2004 currently only providing the right to enter into a civil partnership to same-sex couples.
“The UK Supreme Court recently determined in Steinfeld & Keidan v Secretary of State that the current law to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK Supreme Court were very clear in judgment that the government could not ‘wait and see’ how many same-sex couples opted for civil partnerships as opposed to a marriage before deciding what further action, if any, is needed.
“We sincerely hope the government takes into account the rise in civil partnerships and appreciates that abolishment of civil partnerships is not a reasonable response.”
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