How to end a civil partnership
The dissolution of a civil partnership is very similar to a divorce. You must have been in the civil partnership for a minimum of 1 year before you can apply for a civil partnership dissolution. Once this time has passed, then either one of the couple can complete a dissolution application, and send the form – together with the civil partnership certificate – to the nearest Court dealing with civil partnership dissolution with the relevant Court fee.
If there are no objections to ending the civil partnership and all is legally in order, the Court will grant a conditional order. This is the first of two stages to getting the civil partnership dissolved.
6 weeks and 1 day from the date of the conditional order, the original applicant within the proceedings can apply to the Court for a final order, and upon the granting of that order, the civil partnership is dissolved.
If the original applicant does not apply for a final order, then the other party to the partnership can make the application 3 months and 6 weeks after the date of the conditional order.
If no application for a final order is made within 12 months of the conditional order being granted, then an additional application as to be made in order to explain to the Court the reasons for the delay. In reality, the final order can sometimes be delayed whilst the couple sort out and finalise the separation of their financial circumstances.
Grounds for dissolution of a civil partnership
There is currently only one basis for the dissolution of a civil partnership provided for by the law, and that is that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.
In order to prove that the relationship has irretrievably broken down, you need to establish one of five ‘facts’. These are:
- Unreasonable behaviour (including adultery) – your civil partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them;
- 2 years separation by consent – you have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the dissolution petition and your civil partner consents to the dissolution being granted;
- 5 years separation – you have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the dissolution petition;
- Desertion – your civil partner has deserted you for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the dissolution petition
Unlike in a divorce, adultery is not a fact that can be relied upon when dissolving a civil partnership. However adultery can be cited within the examples of unreasonable behaviour
Before you apply for a dissolution of a civil partnership - What you need to know
Before you can apply to dissolve your civil partnership you must have been in the civil partnership for at least a year.
Once you have completed the dissolution petition (either online or on paper), it needs to be sent to the court with your civil partnership certificate or a certified copy of it as the process cannot start without it. If you have lost your civil partnership certificate, a duplicate copy can be obtained from the General Register Office.
There are also certain jurisdictional requirements in relation to where you are habitually resident or domiciled. Details of these are set out in the dissolution petition itself, but if you are unsure or think that this may be an issue then please contact us [link] and we will be able to help.
Aside from completing the dissolution petition and making sure you have your civil partnership certificate, it is important to start pulling together your financial documents (such as bank statements, pay slips, mortgage information, property valuations, pension valuations etc.) so that you can start to think about how your finances will be split between the two of you.
Either one of you can complete a dissolution application, and send the form – together with the civil partnership certificate – to the nearest Court dealing with civil partnership dissolution with the relevant Court fee.
The Acknowledgement of Service is the form that the respondent to the dissolution completes to let the court know that they have seen the dissolution petition. In it they are asked to confirm if they agree to the dissolution proceeding or if they intend to defend it (known as contested proceedings), whether there are any other court cases concerning the civil partnership that the court should know about, and whether they are willing to contribute towards or pay all of the costs relating to the dissolution.
An uncontested civil partnership dissolution is where the respondent to the dissolution agrees to the ending of the civil partnership and doesn’t defend it. It is possible for the respondent to disagree with any particulars of unreasonable behaviour that the petitioner has given in the dissolution petition, yet still allow the dissolution to continue on the basis that the civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.
A contested civil partnership dissolution is where the respondent defends or doesn’t agree to the civil partnership dissolution. This process is more complicated that an uncontested civil partnership dissolution as it could involve court hearings and, if unsuccessful, the respondent may have to pay the legal costs of the petitioner for such hearings if they do not adequately defend the civil partnership dissolution petition.
A conditional order of dissolution is an order from the court that states that the court doesn’t see any reason why the civil partnership can’t be dissolved. You can apply for a conditional order of dissolution if the respondent to the dissolution petition doesn’t defend (or object) to the civil partnership coming to an end.
A final dissolution order is the document that legally ends a civil partnership. You can apply for a final dissolution order 6 weeks and 1 day after the date that the conditional order of dissolution was granted.
Why Hawkins Family Law?
We are a specialist law firm, focusing solely on family law matters, such as civil partnership divorce and separation, and everything that comes with these life-changing events. Established in 2001, at Hawkins Family Law team we are all “people” people, and are committed to producing rounded outcomes for our clients, offering expertise in whatever forum works best for you, always aiming to bring matters to a swift solution with the minimum pain.
We can provide legal advice and assistance relating to your separation and financial matters and can offer advice on the difference options available for you to choose from in order to solve your issues with your partner or ex-partner.
The way in which you approach the dissolution of your civil partnership is your choice but, with Hawkins Family Law, you can be assured of our consistently high levels of support and guidance.