Can I dissolve my civil partnership or apply for a divorce?
To apply to get a divorce or civil partnership dissolution under the laws of England and Wales you must have been married or in a civil partnership for more than one year and you will be required to demonstrate good reasons for wanting to end the legal contract. There are 5 reasons that can be used (known as facts in law but generally referred to as the grounds for divorce) which demonstrate that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.
This involves showing that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you can no longer live with them. If you are using this ground you will be required to note in the petition examples of their behaviour.
Unreasonable behaviour is now the most common ground used to apply for divorce in England and Wales.
Adultery specifically refers to ‘sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex outside marriage’ and therefore is not appropriate in the case of same sex infidelity.
The person who has committed adultery cannot use this ground.
Two years’ separation
You have lived apart for at least two years and you both agree to the divorce. The agreement must be in writing.
Five years’ separation
You have lived apart for at least five years. In this instance, you do not need the agreement of your husband or wife.
This is where your spouse has left you without your agreement for a continuous period of at least two years. This fact is almost never used.
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 divorce or dissolution of the civil partnership. You will need advice about your rights and may need the help of a specialist family lawyer to negotiate a settlement.