Opposite-sex couples flock to form civil partnerships on the first day of legislation changes, figures reveal

Some 167 opposite-sex couples formed a civil partnership on the first day it was possible to do so following legislative changes, it has been revealed.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), are the first to analyse the changes which saw civil partnerships extended to all couples in England and Wales from 31 December 2019.

The change came after the Supreme Court ruled in June 2018 that the rules around civil partnerships breached the human rights of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, an opposite-sex couple who wished to form a civil partnership.

According to the report, there were 167 civil partnerships registered by opposite-sex couples on the first day that opposite-sex couples could legally enter into a civil partnership.

Meanwhile, 994 same-sex civil partnerships were formed in England and Wales in 2019 – 82 per cent lower than in 2013, presumably as a result of the introduction of same-sex marriages in March 2014.

The statistics show that the majority (61 per cent) of same-sex civil partnerships in England and Wales in 2019 were between men, and just one in five (19 per cent) of those entering a same-sex civil partnership in 2019 were aged 65 years and over.

Over the same period, the ONS recorded 916 civil partnership dissolutions – a decrease of 1.2 per cent from the previous year.

Commenting on the figures, Kanak Ghosh, of the ONS, said: “On 31st December 2019, civil partnerships were extended to opposite-sex couples after having historically been only for same-sex couples.

“On this day, 167 opposite-sex couples took the opportunity to register their partnerships. Meanwhile, just under 1,000 same-sex couples also chose to form a civil partnership during 2019, a small increase from the previous year. Around one in five of those forming same-sex partnerships in 2019 were over the age of 65, a noticeable increase since 2013 where it was only one in 25.

“Next year, we expect to see further increases to the overall number of civil partnerships in England and Wales as more opposite-sex couples choose to become civil partners.”

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell.Solicitors in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.