As the much publicised debate about gay marriage rumbles on, the office of National Statistics has released data about the popularity of civil partnerships. After a slow start following the same sex unions becoming legal in December 2005, the number of same sex couples entering into civil partnership has increased to an extent unpredicted by official figures. The latest numbers released on31 July 2012reveal that the number of same sex partners entering into such unions has exceeded 106,000.
The latest data on marriage rates published in February of this year being the figues for 2010 (2011 have yet to be published) also show an increase, the first one in six years with the rates up to 8.7 per 100,000 population as opposed to 8.5 per 100,000 population in 2009.
Interestingly the largest increase in marriage rates were for men aged between 45 to 49 years old (up by 5.9%) and women between 30 and 34 years old (up by 6%). The statistics published do not detail whether this is a reflection of more people marrying later and/or illustrative of an increase in second marriages. It is however from our practical experience a combination of the two.
The tide therefore does seem to be turning with an increasing number of people making a formal and legally binding commitment to one another after a number of years lull. It is important that anyone contemplating marriage/entering into a same sex union considers their financial position before making what is arguably the biggest commitment of their lives. This is not least due to the fact that this jurisdiction, i.e.EnglandandWales, is one of the most generous in the world for the "less well off spouse/civil partner". Steps can however now be taken to protect/preserve wealth against future marital/ civil partnerships breakdown. Protection involves entering into a properly drafted pre-nuptial or pre-civil partnership agreement. Although such agreements are not guaranteed to be 100% binding in law in English and Wales, the courts are increasingly taking more account of them following the recent well publicised supreme court decision of Radmacher and the subsequent line of authorities of the higher courts. For more information on the decision of Radmacher please click on this link.
Although it is perhaps not the most romantic notion, the reality is that people are very well advised to consider the "what if it doesn’t work" question prior to making such an important commitment to their partner.
At Lupton Fawcett Family and Divorce Services, we have a wealth of experience in advising, drafting and otherwise assisting parties in connection with pre-nuptial agreements, pre civil partnership agreements and also cohabitation contracts for people who have not taken the decision to marry but have decided to formally live together.
For further information and/or assistance, please contact Andrea Dyer in our Leeds family team on 0113 280 2051 or e-mail Andrea firstname.lastname@example.org