A civil partnership gives gay and lesbian couples the same legal rights as their married heterosexual counterparts – and so requires formal legal proceedings when the relationship breaks down, to end the legal agreement between the couple. To do this, one of the parties must file a petition with the court, requesting civil partnership dissolution. This is a process very similar to the divorce process, which is detailed in the How to get a UK divorce page.
To get dissolution, you must have been in a civil partnership for more than one year. One person needs to start the ball rolling. They are known as the petitioner. This person is responsible for proving that the civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.
The petitioner is required to complete a petition, which will contain details including the date you entered into the civil partnership, the last address where you lived together as a couple, and whether or not there are any children in the family.
It then follows the same course as a divorce, typically taking between three and five months to complete.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding your financial rights in the breakdown of a relationship.
There will often be a range of possible solutions to dividing the assets in your relationship, and it is important that you explain fully to your lawyer your own preferences within that range. It may be that you can come to an amicable agreement with your partner. If you do, this can be embodied in a legal binding agreement (called a Consent Order).
Your lawyer will guide you through the factors that the court may take into account, such as the age of the parties, the length of the relationship, jointly and individually held assets (including property), your income and pension provisions. But sorting out these arrangements with your former partner outside the bounds of the court will save time, money and additional heartache.
If you can’t agree however you have the right to invite the court to decide on a division of the assets with your partner.
This is a separate case beyond the dissolution of the civil partnership and follows the same process as financial settlements on divorce. You will need advice about your rights and may need the help of a specialist family lawyer to negotiate a settlement.
If there are children from the relationship, generally speaking, the court will give priority to whoever is caring for them, and will try to address the reasonable needs of the parties for things like housing.
For advice on dissolving a Civil Partnership call 0800 321 3832 or request a call using our online form.