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How have marriages of same sex couples affected the number of civil partnership formations, and how many couples have converted their civil partnership into a marriage?

The latest provisional statistics for England and Wales, up to 30 June 2015.

Following implementation of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, the first marriages of same sex couples took place on 29 March 2014. Civil partners have been able to convert their civil partnership into a marriage, if they so desired, from 10 December 2014.

How many marriages have been formed between same sex couples?

A total of 7,366 marriages were formed between same sex couples between 29 March 2014 and 30 June 2015. Of these, 55% (4,059 marriages) were between female couples and 45% (3,307 marriages) were between male couples.

Figure 1: Number of marriages of same sex couples by month, 29 March 2014 to 30 June 2015

England and Wales

Figure 1: Number of marriages of same sex couples by month, 29 March 2014 to 30 June 2015
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. The first marriages of same sex couples could take place on 29 March 2014.
  2. All figures are provisional.
  3. Figures for March 2014 to June 2014 differ very slightly from those published in August 2014. This is due to a very small number of entries being received after the dataset used for our publication in 2014 had been taken. Figures remain provisional until final annual 2014 figures are published.

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The number of marriages of same sex couples increased from March 2014 to a peak in August 2014 of 844 marriages (Figure 1). Historically the most popular time for marriages to take place is during the summer months, with ceremonies being less popular in winter. Marriages of same sex couples are following this seasonal pattern.

From 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015, a total of 5,916 marriages took place between same sex couples. This is similar to the number of civil partnerships formed each year between 2009 and 2013, where the annual number of partnerships ranged from 5,600 to 6,400.  

How many civil partnerships have been converted into a marriage?

There were 7,732 couples who chose to convert their existing civil partnership into a marriage between 10 December 2014 and 30 June 2015.  Roughly equal numbers of male and female couples converted their civil partnerships to a marriage (3,856 male couples and 3,876 female couples).  The number of conversions taking place has decreased each month from a peak of 2,401 in December 2014, with the exception of May 2015 when there was a small rise (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Number of civil partnerships converted into a marriage by month, 10 December 2014 to 30 June 2015

England and Wales

Figure 2: Number of civil partnerships converted into a marriage by month, 10 December 2014 to 30 June 2015
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Civil partners have been able to convert their civil partnership into a marriage, from 10 December 2014.
  2. All figures are provisional.

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Population estimates by marital status, estimate that on 30 June 2014 there were 115,389 civil partners living in England and Wales. Using this figure it is possible to estimate that by 30 June 2015, around 13% of civil partners had chosen to convert their relationship into a marriage.

Has the number of civil partnership formations been affected by the introduction of marriages of same sex couples?

An announcement was made in December 2013 that marriages of same sex couples could be formed from 29 March 2014. Following this announcement, there was a very small rise in the number of civil partnerships formed in January 2014 compared with January 2013. However, from February 2014, the number of civil partnerships formed each month began to fall notably when compared with the same month a year earlier (Figure 3). In December 2014, only 58 civil partnerships were formed compared with 314 in December 2013, a fall of 82%.The small rise in civil partnerships in January 2014 is likely to be due to ceremonies booked prior to the December 2013 announcement and happening soon after, continuing to take place.

Figure 3: Number of civil partnerships by month, 2013 and 2014

England and Wales

Figure 3: Number of civil partnerships by month, 2013 and 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. The first marriages of same sex couples could take place on 29 March 2014.

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How does the introduction of marriages of same sex couples and civil partnership conversions compare to the introduction of civil partnerships?

In December 2005, 1,227 civil partnerships were formed in the first 3 days that same sex couples could do so (21 to 23 December 2005). Civil partnership conversions have almost mirrored that, with 993 conversions taking place in the first 3 days (10 to 12 December 2014). The uptake of marriages, by comparison, is markedly slower, with 98 marriages taking place in the first 3 days (29 to 31 March 2014).

The same is also true when considering the first 3 months. There were 1,450 marriages of same sex couples between 29 March and 30 June 2014 (a 94 day period).  This is much lower than the 6,147 civil partnerships formed in the first 94 days from 21 December 2005. A total of 5,078 civil partnerships were converted into a marriage in the first 94 days from 10 December 2014.

The early uptake of marriages of same sex couples is lower than the uptake of civil partnerships, possibly because before the introduction of civil partnerships there was no other option for same sex couples to formalise their relationships.

What proportion of those marrying a partner of the same sex had previously married someone of the opposite sex?

The majority of those marrying a same sex partner had never been married or in a civil partnership before (81% of women and 89% of men). Just over 14% of women and 8% of men had been divorced. The majority, if not all of these previous marriages will have been with a partner of the opposite sex (the background note has further details).

A further 4% of women marrying had previously been in a civil partnership which had dissolved or been annulled, compared with 2% of men. A small number of those marrying had a previous marriage or civil partnership end due to the death of their partner (0.6% of women and 0.7% of men).

What was the average age at marriage for men and women?

Men generally formalised their relationship with a same sex partner at older ages than women (Figure 4); 68% of marriages to those aged 65 and over were between males and more females married at ages under 50.

Figure 4: Marriages of same sex couples, age at formation for males and females, 29 March 2014 to 30 June 2015

England and Wales

Figure 4: Marriages of same sex couples, age at formation for males and females, 29 March 2014 to 30 June 2015
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. All figures are provisional.

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The average (mean) age at marriage for same sex couples was 40 years for men compared with 37 years for women. In comparison the mean age at formation of a civil partnership in 2014 was 44 years for men and 42 years for women. For marriages of opposite sex couples, the mean age at marriage was slightly lower at 37 years for men and 34 years for women in 2012 (provisional figures).

Couples were generally older when converting their civil partnership into a marriage, for men the average was 49 years while for women it was 44 years.

Where can I find out more about marriage statistics?

More information and data on marriage and civil partnership statistics can be found on our website. Further information on marriages of same sex couples will be available when final marriages data for 2014 are released. If you have any comments or suggestions on this release, please email us at: vsob@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

 

Background note:

Previous marital status, recorded when a marriage is registered, can be used to find the number of divorcees remarrying. Unfortunately there is no information about whether the previous marriage involved a partner of the same or opposite sex.

Petitions for divorce cannot be filed within the first year of marriage and the median duration between filing a petition and being awarded a decree absolute is around 24 weeks (Ministry of Justice (2014) Court statistics (quarterly) January to March 2014, Table 2.4).

Given these time frames it is unlikely that many (if any) marriages of same sex couples formed in England and Wales will have reached decree absolute by June 2015. The number of divorcees, who previously formed a marriage with someone of the same sex outside of England and Wales, is likely to be very small. Consequently, a very large proportion (if not all) of the divorcees forming a marriage with a partner of the same sex between 29 March 2014 and 30 June 2015 were at some time married to a partner of the opposite sex.

Categories: Population, Families, Marriages, Cohabitations, Civil Partnerships and Divorces, Marriages
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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