Civil Partnerships are in crisis. What does it mean for marriage?

Aug 24, 2018

The rate of dissolution for civil partnerships is far higher than the rate of divorce within marriage, according to figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics.

The Daily Mail reported that in 2016 for every 1,000 marriages there were 8.9 divorces. For civil partnerships the figure is 29.7 dissolutions for every 1,000 partnerships, more than treble the rate.

Over 2017 there were more dissolutions (1,217) than there were new partnerships formed (908). The annual rate of formation is down 85% from its peak, largely due to the introduction of same-sex marriage.

This data has a number of important implications for policymakers.

Firstly, it implies that same-sex unions may be less stable and likely to endure than traditional marriages. This was strenuously denied at the time of the same-sex marriage debate.

Secondly, it also suggests that civil partnerships themselves are less stable and likely to endure than traditional marriage.

Thirdly, it suggests that there is already very little demand for civil partnerships as opposed to marriage from same-sex couples. Given this there is little or no reason to think that it would be proportionately more popular amongst heterosexual couples were it to be introduced.

The Government is currently considering the introduction of civil partnerships for heterosexuals.

This data suggests that these unions are not an effective substitute for marriage. Extending them would only push heterosexual couples into a marriage-lite format which is more likely to fail. Instead of attempting to devise alternatives for marriage, Parliament must concentrate on strengthening real marriage as it has stood for centuries. We already have a gold standard. Let’s protect it.

This is an extract from one of the Coalition for Marriage’s regular communications with its supporters. If you would like to register as a marriage supporter and receive these updates, you may do so here.