Lesbian couples are twice as likely to end civil partnerships as gay men, new research has revealed. The research, by a firm of lawyers, analysed the outcomes of nearly 60,000 civil partnerships, and confirms previous similar findings by the government.
33,904 male civil partnerships were created between 2005, when they were first introduced, and 2014. During the same period, 28,088 female unions were created. However, whereas 5.4 per cent of male unions went on to end in a breakup, 9.7 per cent of female unions suffered the same fate, the Financial Times has reported.
Philippa Dolan, a partner in the family law team at Collyer Bristow which undertook the study suggested that the relative youth of women when they enter partnerships may go some way to explaining the discrepancy.
“Some traditional gender expectations persist even in civil partnerships, with women seemingly keener to get married at an earlier age than men,” she said. “That may have played a role in their higher dissolution rate.
“Divorce rates among heterosexual couples are highest among couples in their 20s, so there is a definite correlation between marrying young and splitting up shortly afterward. These figures suggest that applies in same-sex civil partnerships too.”
The findings are in line with similar statistics released by the government two years ago. Seven years after the first unions took place, 3.2 percent of male unions had ended in dissolution, compared to 6.1 percent of female unions. The figures also showed that women in civil partnerships tie the knot at an average age of 37.6, compared to men, for whom the average age is 40.
Gunnar Anderson, a demography professor at Stockholm University, said the British findings chime with the experiences of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. He suggests that gender, rather than sexuality is the cause.
“Women are both more prone to forming a union as well as to dissolving a union,” he said, adding “Women have higher demands on relationship quality. This is one of the reasons why divorce has increased more generally.
“Even if you control for age there is still a trend of more women ending partnerships than men.”
Ms Dolan confirmed: “There’s no doubt that women are more likely to file divorce petitions. I think you can say that women are more likely to know a relationship is on the rocks.”
The gay rights group Stonewall has shied away from drawing any conclusions from the results, however, saying: “Relationships end for a number of reasons, and the decision to marry is also driven by different factors for different people. We would like to see more in depth, qualitative research into these statistics before drawing any conclusions.”
Since the introduction of gay marriage in March 2014 there has been a sharp decrease in civil partnerships, despite the benefits of the two states being almost identical. Last December, 82 civil partnerships were formed, representing an 82 percent decrease from the previous year.