It’s been widely reported that the Government is to take a good look again at civil partnerships.
Earlier this month saw the second reading of the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill in the Commons, which seeks to see how the Government can extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. What it also did was throw under the spotlight whether civil partnerships are needed at all now that same-sex couples can get married.
Dissolving civil partnerships is in many ways no different to the process of divorce, however, there are still some nuances. The legal system has taken massive strides forwards in terms of equality when dealing with same-sex couples in the last few years. The changes ensure that all enjoy the same rights, something that is still not the case in many other countries.
With a new Government in place, albeit one preoccupied with Brexit and unforeseen tragic events, is now the time to put more emphasis on equality in family law? We have marriage and civil partnerships for same sex couples, but what about the rights of cohabiting couples, and the rights of heterosexual couples to have a civil partnership instead of getting married?
I came across some interesting figures this week. The average age at which women marry is 37.0 years, according to ONS, slightly lower than the male mean age of 38.6 years. Seem high? Well maybe not if I tell you that these figures relate to same-sex marriage. For hetero-sexual couples, the ages are significantly lower: just under 30 for women and just over 30 for men.
As more people enter civil partnerships and same sex marriages it’s an unfortunate fact of life that more of these relationships are also ending in divorce, or dissolution as it’s known. Between 2012 and 2014 there was a 20% increase in the number of civil partnership dissolutions.