South Wales Echo, 13th September 2010
SAME-SEX civil partnerships are less likely to break up in Wales than marriages, figures have suggested.

Statistics have shown that while a quarter of marriages end in divorce within five years, just 3.2% of civil partnerships have been dissolved since they were introduced in December 2005.

More than a third of Wales’ 1,447 civil partnerships took place in 2006, shortly after they were introduced, yet only 47 break-ups have been made final.

Figures earlier this year showed that the rate of ceremonies was slowing following an initial flurry of long-standing couples who wanted to make their relationships official.

Denise Knowles, a relationship counsellor for charity Relate, said many same-sex couples who tied the knot in recent years have been more focused on commitment because they had long anticipated the legal change.

She said: “I think a lot of couples that decided to go down the civil partnership route are couples that are committed to each other and had been longing for some kind of legal recognition.”

“I don’t think anyone gets married in the belief that in five years’ time they will get divorced, otherwise nobody would get married.”

“I do think marriage is still an alternative if you like. A lot of people will have lived together for a long time and if the relationship isn’t working so well, they think if they get married maybe it will improve, or if they are considering starting a family.”

She said the motivation was different for civil partnerships.

“People are entering into them because they desperately want to, not because they feel they ought to.”

Dr Ann Thomas, of the British Psychological Society, said: “It might be that the couples that had got married had been waiting for a long, long time. They could have been in very stable relationships and this was the opportunity at last to do it, so the first cohort of people may have been the kind of people who have been desperate to be together.”

David James, of Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice in Cardiff, said: “Civil partnerships have become an accepted part of our society, although a consequence of this is that we deal with civil partnership dissolution on a regular basis at these offices.”