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Civil partnership dissolution law

Ending a civil partnership can be a stressful time, and the legal procedures associated with it are often the last thing you want. However, proper help from a solicitor can really help relieve the strain.

The process of dividing up any money, property and possessions can be arduous when dealing with the personal and emotional side of the end of a partnership, and if children are involved the situation can be even more difficult.

First4lawyers can offer support, advice, and legal guidance in any aspect of your civil partnership dissolution. Should you contact us, our advisors will listen to your circumstances and offer advice on the best next steps for your circumstances.

What is civil partnership dissolution?

If you have been in a civil partnership for more than one year, you can apply to have it officially dissolved. This is a similar process to when married couples divorce, and often requires legal assistance.

To end a civil partnership, you will need to go through the following procedures:

  • You will need to apply to the court for permission to end your civil partnership, detailing the reasons behind your decision. This is known as filing a dissolution petition.
  • To obtain agreement to the dissolution from your partner you need to apply for a conditional order. If this is successful, you’ll be notified that the dissolution can go ahead.
  • Six weeks after your conditional order is approved, you can apply for a final order that will legally end the partnership.

Either party can start the proceedings, but you can only start a civil partnership dissolution in a limited number of courts around the UK:

  • The Principal Registry of the Family Division in London.
  • The county courts in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Chester, Exeter, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.

What are the grounds for ending a civil partnership?

To have your civil partnership dissolved, you have to prove the relationship has broken down irretrievably.

If you are beginning the proceedings, you need to base your grounds for dissolution around one of the following scenarios:

  • Your partner’s behaviour has become such that you cannot be reasonably expected to stay with them.
  • Your partner has deserted you for over two years.
  • You have been separated for at least two years and your partner agrees to the dissolution.
  • You have been separated for five years (regardless of whether they agree to the dissolution).

If you have not been with your partner for two years, then you can only dissolve the partnership on the grounds of your partner’s behaviour. The type of behaviour that may contribute to civil partnership dissolution includes neglect, adultery, lack of affection, abuse, or violence.

If you have been with your partner for less than a year and you can prove your partner has behaved unreasonably, you can apply for a separation order.

I want to dissolve my civil partnership – what should I do?

You can seek permission from the court to end your civil partnership by filing a dissolution petition at any time. The forms for a dissolution petition are available from the Ministry of Justice website.

However, it is worth considering that ending your civil partnership may affect your right to stay in the UK if you are not a British citizen, and if you have children you will need to consider them when the partnership ends.

Financial arrangements and housing issues may also be important factors in the dissolution of your civil partnership, and it is strongly advisable to seek legal advice to make sure that you have taken into account all the possible implications of your decision.

First4lawyers can provide highly qualified family lawyers whose experience and knowledge will be applied to your civil partnership dissolution.

I wish to refuse the dissolution of a civil partnership – what should I do?

If you wish to contest a civil partnership dissolution order, you need to prove the relationship has not broken down irretrievably, or that a dissolution would cause you ‘grave hardship’.

If you can show the court your behaviour has not put your partner in a situation where they cannot reasonably be expected to live with you, that may help you in the eyes of the court.

Equally, if you lived together during the last five years, and not deserted your partner in the last two years, the court may find fewer reasons to dissolve the partnership.

If you have been separated for five years, you can still oppose the dissolution of your civil partnership if you can prove it would cause you grave financial hardship, other serious, negative consequences, or if the interest of any children or other people concerned would be adversely affected.

Find help with First4lawyers

Whether you wish to file for a civil partnership dissolution, or if you are seeking assistance in contesting one, First4lawyers can work hard to bring about the resolution you are looking for.

Speak to us for a no-obligation chat about your civil partnership. Should you have a case, we can match you to expert solicitors who’ll be happy to take the legal strain involved in a civil partnership dissolution.

How to guides

Learn more about this area of law and what you need to know:

How to dissolve a civil partnership

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how to dissolve a civil partnership

Read more

A guide to separation agreements

In this guide, we'll help understand about separation agreements

read more

A guide to separating with children

In this guide, we'll help you understand what to do after separating when you have children


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