In 2010, 509 gay couples separated and dissolved their civil partnership. That was a 44% increase on 2009.

Civil partnerships came into effect in December 2005. Since then, nearly 50,000 same sex couples have used them to formalise their relationships. More than 6,000 civil partnerships were registered in the UK last year, a slight increase on 2009.

The rise in the dissolution figures is thought to be largely down to the fact that many couples have now been in a partnership for up to five years and, like many heterosexual couples, have had time to grow apart and decide they want to separate.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show lesbian couples are twice as likely to separate as gay men.

Only 1.6% of civil partnerships involving gay men have been dissolved since 2005. That compares with 3.3% for lesbian couples.

Gay couples who dissolve their civil partnership face the same kind of issues as married couples who divorce.

They should seek legal advice on how to reach a settlement that is fair to both partners. They may also need to update their wills to reflect their changed circumstances.

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