How to end a civil partnership
A civil partnership gives gay and lesbian couples the same legal rights as their married counterparts. 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 a petition with the court, requesting civil partnership dissolution. This is a process very like the divorce process.
Grounds for dissolution of a civil partnership
To get a 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 grounds for dissolution of a civil partnership or divorce will be that the partnership has broken down for good (irretrievable breakdown) and one of these facts can be used to prove this:
i) Unreasonable behaviour
ii) Two years separation, and the consent of the other partner
iii) Five years separation
Adultery can be used, if the party had sex with someone of the opposite sex. Sex with someone of the same sex is not considered under the legal definition of adultery.
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 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.
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 in the breakdown of 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 lawyer 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?
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 financial settlements here.
Parental responsibility for civil partners and married couples
Parental responsibility conveys certain rights and responsibility 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 ‘step parent’ 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 of 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 attains the age of 18 years 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.
Call Woolley & Co, solicitors on 0800 321 3832 for advice on civil partnership dissolution, or complete our online form.