October 11, 2013

Civil partnerships “divorce” increase prompts call for pre-cips

As figures show a 20% increase in dissolutions of civil partnerships, Fiona Kendall, partner at Jones Myers, is urging couples to consider taking up pre-civil partnership agreements (pre-cips).

Fiona, who was asked to comment by The Times on the surge in same sex “divorces” as couples feel the seven year itch, says: “The rate of dissolution of civil partnership is considerably lower than the 42% of marriages which end in divorce – suggesting that same sex couples are much better at ‘hanging on’ in their relationships.

“However, the statistics still highlight that the reality of separation is as significant for same sex couples as it for heterosexual partners.  Pre-cips can be invaluable when one or both parties wish to protect assets or property they have acquired prior to their civil partnership.  These latest figures may prompt those thinking about embarking on civil partnerships to consider pre-cips to ensure they can sort out their finances should they separate.”

In a pre-cip – similar to a pre-nuptial agreement for marriage – couples agree in advance what should happen to their finances if the relationship breaks down. Each party must take separate legal advice before entering into such an agreement.  Although not legally binding under English law, courts are increasingly taking pre-cips into account when a civil partnership is dissolved.

There were 794 civil partnership dissolutions in 2012 – seven years after the law changed to allow same sex couples to formalise their relationships. More women than men wanted to end their civil partnerships – a similar pattern to marriage – with 6.1% of females compared with 3.2% of males dissolving civil partnerships in 2012.

Fiona adds: “It’s not uncommon for heterosexual couples to experience a seven year itch and break up. These figures show that same sex couples face the same issues and challenges.  When the Bill was passed to enable civil partnerships there was a surge in couples wanting to formalise their relationships – the rise in dissolutions seven years later is perhaps not surprising.”

There were 7,037 new civil partnerships in 2012 – a 3.6 % rise on the previous year – far exceeding Government predictions at the time the Bill was passed.

“The new figures show that the average age for men entering civil partnerships was 40, while it was 37 for women.  So couples may well have considerable assets or children from previous relationships or marriage.  A pre-cip is a pragmatic way of resolving financial and issues around children before they arise.  Couples whose civil partnerships don’t work out will find that a pre-cip can help them to avoid potential conflict and to dissolve their partnership in a relatively painless manner through a collaborative process.”

If you have any questions  about civil partnerships or pre-cips then please then do email us or give us a call on 0113 246 0055. You can follow us on Twitter @helpwithdivorce