How to end a civil partnership
Civil partnerships are available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Couples who enter into a civil partnership have the same legal rights as their married counterparts, which means that there is also a formal process for ending the relationship.
The civil partnership dissolution (civil partnership divorce) process 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 an application with the court, requesting civil partnership dissolution.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 introduced several changes to the civil partnership dissolution process, including removing the need to provide a reason for the irretrievable breakdown of the civil partnership.
At Woolley & Co, our civil partnership dissolution solicitors nationwide can assist with:
- Making a civil partnership dissolution application
- Financial arrangements following civil partnership dissolution
- Child arrangements following civil partnership dissolution
Our clients are based in the UK and abroad. Using our experience and expertise, we are able to assist with even the most complex civil partnership dissolutions, ensuring that the process remains as straightforward and productive as possible.
Speak to our expert solicitors about civil partnership dissolution
To take advantage of a free 30-minute telephone appointment to discuss your situation and the options available to you, call Woolley & Co on 0800 321 3832 or complete our online form.
How to dissolve a civil partnership
The first step when dissolving a civil partnership involves making an application to the court. The application will involve the details of both parties, alongside a statement of irretrievable breakdown. A sole application by one party or a joint application can be submitted.
If the application is made by a sole applicant, the court issues the application to the other party (known as the respondent), along with an acknowledgement of service form. The respondent must respond within 14 days, confirming their receipt of the application and confirming that they will not be disputing the dissolution of the civil partnership.
The grounds for disputing a civil partnership dissolution application are limited to the following:
- The respondent believes the Court in England and Wales does not have the jurisdiction to conduct dissolution proceedings in their case, e.g. because neither party lives in or has any connection to this jurisdiction
- The civil partnership in question is not valid
- The civil partnership has already been legally ended
If the court is satisfied, a date will be set for the conditional order to be pronounced. There is a minimum 20-week waiting period between the civil partnership dissolution application being submitted and the conditional order being pronounced.
Six weeks after the conditional order has been granted, the applicant(s) can apply for the final order. Once granted, this means that the civil partnership has been dissolved.
What are the grounds for civil partnership dissolution?
To get a dissolution, you must have been in a civil partnership for more than one year.
There is only one ground for the dissolution of a civil partnership, which is that the partnership has broken down for good (irretrievable breakdown). Previously, one of five facts were required to prove the irretrievable breakdown of a civil partnership, but the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act removed this.
Learn more about the divorce and dissolution process here.
Financial implications of a civil partnership dissolution
There are no hard and fast rules regarding your financial rights after ending a civil partnership.
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 legally binding agreement called a Consent Order.
Your civil partnership solicitor will guide you through the factors that the court may consider, such as the age of the parties, the length of the relationship, jointly and individually held assets (including property), your income and pension provisions.
If you can’t agree, 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 civil partnership dissolution 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.
What happens to property in a civil partnership divorce?
If there’s a property to sort out, there are several options and the one you choose will depend on your circumstances and a full consideration of all the assets the two of you hold. If you are in this position, you might consider:
- buying out your partner’s share
- selling the property and splitting the equity
- offsetting the equity in the house against other assets
- agreeing to buy out your partner at a stage in the future and in the meantime, they maintain a charge over the property
Whatever you decide, it’s important to record your agreement in a formal written document which a family law solicitor can draw up for you.
Will I get maintenance from my ex-civil partner?
When ending a civil partnership, the same range of financial settlement options are available to you as are available to divorcing couples, and this includes spousal maintenance. Whether or not you are entitled to maintenance will depend on a range of factors such as your age and earning capacity.
You can get advice on this by taking advantage of a free telephone appointment. Call Woolley & Co on 0800 321 3832, or complete our online form.
Learn more about divorce settlements here.
Parental responsibility for civil partners and married couples
Parental responsibility conveys certain rights and responsibilities in relation to a child. Practically having parental responsibility will, amongst other things, allow you to contact the child’s GP to obtain or discuss medical treatment and to play an active role in the child’s education, giving you access to school reports and parents’ evenings.
A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child, as do married fathers. Unmarried fathers may also have parental responsibility depending on when the child was born, whether the father is named on the birth certificate or whether there is a parental responsibility agreement or order.
Upon the registering of a civil partnership the partner who is the non-parent legally becomes a ‘stepparent’ to any children born to their partner. This would include any adopted children.
How to obtain parental responsibility
If you wish to have parental responsibility for your Partner’s children, it can be obtained in one of the following ways:
- by entering into a voluntary parental responsibility agreement with every person who has parental responsibility for the child concerned, or
- by obtaining an order from the court. This could be a parental responsibility order or a residence order (which would give parental responsibility to the person with residence for the life of the residence order).
Parental responsibility comes to an end when the child turns 18 years old or by court order if earlier.
This is a complicated area of the law and if you are in any doubt about your rights and responsibilities relating to children, do take advice from an experienced family lawyer.
How long does it take to get a civil partnership dissolved?
Civil partnership dissolutions now take a minimum of 26 weeks (approximately six months). This is because there is a 20-week waiting period before the conditional order, then a 6-week waiting period for the final order.
It is important to emphasise that this is a minimum timeframe. The dissolution process could take longer depending on how quickly the court is able to process an application.
How much does it cost to dissolve a civil partnership?
There is a £593 fee for making a civil partnership dissolution application online or via post. When you choose to dissolve a civil partnership, there will also be the cost of any advice you receive from a solicitor in completing the paperwork for the application, as well as dealing with any other matters such as arrangements for your finances and children.
Our civil partnership solicitors are here for you
If you are considering the dissolution of a civil partnership, or simply need further advice on the options available to you, our experienced solicitors will be on hand to lend their support and expertise.
To take advantage of a free 30-minute telephone appointment to discuss your situation, call Woolley & Co on 0800 321 3832 or complete our online form.