ONS Figures Give Insight into Civil Partnership Formation

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published statistics giving an interesting insight into the take up of civil partnership in England and Wales during 2016.

According to the figures, there were 890 civil partnerships formed, which is an increase of 3.4% compared with 2015. This is apparently the first time civil partnership numbers have increased since the introduction of same-sex marriage was announced in 2013.

Statistical Highlights

The figures also show that:

  • More than two-thirds (68%) of all civil partnerships formed in 2016 were between men, the highest proportion since their introduction in 2005.
  • The age distribution of those forming civil partnerships has changed since the introduction of same-sex marraige in 2014. Almost half (49%) of those entering a civil partnership in 2016 were aged 50 and over, up from 48% in 2015. Prior to the introduction of marriages of same-sex couples this figure was only 19% (2013). There has also been a noticeable increase in the percentage of individuals forming a civil partnership at ages 65 and over (19% in 2016 compared with 4.0% in 2013).
  • The increased percentage of civil partnerships formed by those aged 50 and over has resulted in a rise in the average age at civil partnership formation. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, the average age of women forming a civil partnership (49.9 years) was higher than men (48.6 years). The difference between the average age at civil partnership formation for men and women has also increased in 2016.
  • 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.
  • There were 1,313 civil partnership dissolutions granted in England and Wales in 2016, of these 60% were to female couples.

ONS Comment

“Following legislative change enabling marriages of same-sex couples from March 2014, civil partnership formations declined as the majority of same-sex couples opted for marriage instead,” commented Nicola Haines from the ONS. “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. Interestingly, male couples accounted for 68% of all civil partnerships in 2016, however, our latest marriage statistics show that male couples accounted for only 44% of all marriages formed between same sex-couples in 2014.”

Reaction of Relate

Relationship support charity Relate was one of several family-related organisations to comment on the latest statistics.

“It’s interesting that we’re now seeing an increase in civil partnerships for the first time since same-sex marriage was introduced in 2014,” said Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive at Relate. “These figures demonstrate that whilst marriage is now the preferred option for most same-sex couples, civil partnership feels more relevant for some.”

“It’s vital that our legal system adapts to reflect the society we live in and Relate celebrates the fact that same-sex couples now have the option to publically show their commitment in a way that suits them,” he added. “Of course, many couples, regardless of sexual orientation, are choosing to cohabit rather than legally recognise their commitment. Ultimately, it’s the quality of the relationship which really matters to people’s overall wellbeing, which is why investing in our relationships is so important.”

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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