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Civil Partnership Solicitors

The breakdown of a civil partnership is an upsetting experience. At AFG, we offer our clients effective legal advice to guide them through this difficult time. 

Our solicitors will provide clear, professional guidance on the most suitable approach to ending your civil partnership. We can also help you resolve the financial situation following the relationship breakdown and the arrangements for children.

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a civil union that allows two individuals that are in a personal relationship to legally become civil partners. Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004 for same sex couples and were extended to accomodate opposite sex couples in 2019.

A civil partnership is similar to marriage in terms of rights, but you cannot get divorced. Instead, you’ll have to apply for a civil partnership dissolution.

You can read more about how civil partnerships and marriages differ in our dedicated guide

Can civil partners get divorced?

No, civil partners cannot get divorced. There are 3 other ways in which you can separate as civil partners. These are:

  • Dissolution;
  • Annulment;
  • or, upon the death of one or both partners.

What is a dissolution of civil partnership?

A dissolution brings a civil partnership to an end, but it’s important to realise that it only dissolves the civil partnership and it doesn’t deal with any issues regarding the joint finances, property or any children of the partnership. Our expert family law solicitors can look at your family circumstances as a whole and provide you with specific advice.

How can you dissolve a civil partnership?

You need to have been in your civil partnership for at least 1 year before you can apply to have it dissolved. You will also need your original civil partnership certificate or a certified copy. You also cannot enter into another civil partnership until your current one is officially dissolved.

A dissolution petition form must be filed out and sent to the courts. You will then need a conditional order. Once both of these forms have been signed and accepted, a ‘final order’ is then applied for. 

Once a final order has been granted, you and your ex-partner’s civil partnership will officially be dissolved.

What’s the process to end civil partnerships?

Once the Family Court has issued the dissolution petition, it is sent to the other person, who will then be known as the Respondent within the proceedings. The Respondent will need to complete an Acknowledgment of Service, confirming that they have received the dissolution petition.

If the Respondent doesn’t return the Acknowledgment of Service then there are steps that the Petitioner can take to progress the dissolution and ensure it can continue.

Once an Acknowledgment of Service has been returned to the Family Court, the Petitioner can apply for the Conditional Order. This is the interim order which means that, in principle, the Judge has looked at the dissolution petition and decided that the civil partnership can be dissolved.

The final stage is the application for the Final Order. The person bringing the dissolution may make this application no less than six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the Conditional Order. This is often delayed whilst financial arrangements are finalised.

If a further three months passes after this date, then the Respondent can apply for the Final Order.

Once the Family Court makes the Final Order, the civil partnership is legally brought to an end. The Final Order has important consequences both in terms of financial arrangements and wills. It is important you seek individual advice about your personal circumstances.

What is a conditional order in civil partnership dissolution?

A conditional order in a civil partnership dissolution is a document that states that there are no reasons why your civil partnership should not be dissolved.

It is easier to get a conditional order granted if your partner agrees to the dissolution. If your partner disagrees, you’ll have to go to a hearing in court to discuss your case. Our solicitors can help you to prepare for court should you have trouble with your civil partner agreeing to the dissolution.

How do you deal with finances in a civil partnership dissolution?

A final order in dissolution won’t address financial matters. You’ll have to make an independent, financial application to the courts to resolve these matters.

If you and your ex-partner can agree on the division of finances and assets, you can apply for a final order as usual. If not, you’ll be dealing with a contested financial order.

How long does a civil partnership dissolution take?

The civil partnership dissolution process can take between 4 – 6 months, but this can be affected by court delays and the need to resolve financial arrangements alongside the dissolution.

If there are any contested or failed orders, the process will take a lot longer to complete. You may have to spend time with a solicitor building a case, and then further time in the courts arguing said case and working towards an amicable agreement between the parties.

If you have an experienced Family Law Solicitor involved from the start, the process will often take much less time than if you were dealing with the dissolution yourself.

What are the grounds for civil partnership dissolution?

One of the civil partners must have been a resident or domiciled within England and Wales, registered as civil partners of each other in England and Wales or, in the case of a same sex couple, married each other under the law of England and Wales and it would be in the interests of justice for the court to assume jurisdiction in this case. 

If you were born, have always lived and are intending to stay in England and Wales, then it is very likely that you are both habitually resident and domiciled in England and Wales. If you are not sure how this applies to you, our dissolution solicitors can help.

The civil partner who starts the dissolution process is known as the Petitioner. The Petitioner will need to establish that the civil partnership has irretrievably broken down by proving one of four facts to the Family Court:

  1. Unreasonable Behaviour
  2. Desertion
  3. Two years’ separation with consent
  4. Five years’ separation

Our dissolution solicitors can help you to decide which fact you wish to rely on and prepare the documents to demonstrate you have grounds for a dissolution. 

The fact relied upon in the dissolution does not normally impact on decisions relating to financial matters or the children. Most dissolution proceedings proceed on an undefended basis which means neither of the civil partners need to attend the Family Court and indeed, the vast majority of dissolution applications are dealt with as an online exercise by the Family Court.

Civil Partnership Dissolution Solicitors in Bolton and Bury

If you choose AFG, you can expect an efficient service that is tailored to your legal needs.

Our specialist civil partnership team can offer advice on:

  • Financial Settlements and Division of Assets: We will endeavour to reach a fair financial statement that takes into account your needs and achieves the best possible outcome for you.
  • Child Custody: If there are children involved, we can appeal for residence and contact orders to ensure that the children are protected.
  • Pre Civil Partnership Agreements: Our team can offer guidance on pre civil partnership agreements and how they will affect a separation.

FAQs about Civil Partnership Dissolution

My civil partner committed adultery, why can’t I rely on it for my dissolution?

It is not possible for same sex civil partners to rely on the fact of adultery in the way that heterosexual spouses can. This is because adultery as a ‘fact’ to rely upon in proceedings is only available in relation to marriages and if the adultery was between a spouse and a member of the opposite sex.

However, if your civil partner has been unfaithful, this could be relied upon as evidence in support of unreasonable behaviour.

I converted my civil partnership to a marriage. Do I need to get a dissolution or a divorce?

From 10th December 2014, it was possible to convert a civil partnership to marriage – after conversion you should have received a marriage certificate on which the date of the marriage will have been backdated to the date of the civil partnership.

The date of conversion will also appear on the certificate. If you are married, you will need to obtain a divorce. You will need your marriage certificate or a certified copy to start proceedings. 

Read more about the divorce process.

I have a heterosexual civil partnership. What should I do?

Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004 to allow same sex couples the ability to legally register their relationship. In 2018, civil partnerships were extended to include heterosexual couples. The process to dissolve a civil partnership is the same regardless of how the civil partners identify.

Is a civil partner the same as a common law wife or husband?

No, a civil partner is someone who has gone through a civil partnership, there is no such thing as a common law wife or husband.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership and want legal advice on your relationship circumstances, then please look at our information on cohabiting couples and contact our specialist family solicitors.

Can I reach a financial settlement without obtaining a dissolution?

Our solicitors can help you prepare a separation agreement to record the agreement reached about your financial arrangements when you have separated but do not want to dissolve your civil partnership. The only way to get a final, legally binding settlement however, is to obtain a financial order. 

This can only be done after the conditional order has been granted as part of the civil partnership dissolution proceedings. This financial order can either be reached by agreement between the civil partners and sent to the Family Court for approval by a Judge or decided by the Judge after financial proceedings in the Family Court.

My civil partner and I have connections to different countries, how can we work out if we can get a dissolution in England and Wales?

When civil partners have connections to other countries it may mean that more than one legal jurisdiction is able to deal with the dissolution. There can be pros and cons to starting proceedings in different countries and if you are worried about how this might affect you our experienced solicitors can provide advice. 

The situation can be more complicated for those in civil partnerships than marriages as in many countries there is no equivalent legal status to a civil partnership in England and Wales.

You can commence proceedings for a dissolution in England and Wales if you can satisfy one of the following jurisdiction criteria for the family courts in England and Wales to accept an application for dissolution of the civil partnership:

  • Both civil partners are habitually resident in England and Wales
  • Both civil partners were last habitually resident in England and Wales and one still resides here
  • The Respondent is habitually resident in England and Wales
  • The Applicant is habitually resident in England and Wales and has been residing here for the 12 months immediately before the application was made
  • The Applicant is domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales and has been habitually resided in England and Wales for 6 months before the application was made
  • Both civil partners are domiciled here
  • One civil partner is domiciled in England and Wales
  • The civil partnership was registered in England & Wales and no other court has jurisdiction to deal with the dissolution

I’m worried about attending court. Will I have to attend the Family Court for a civil partnership dissolution?

The vast majority of civil partnership dissolutions are dealt with online and you will not have to attend Court or see your civil partner. If you are worried about attending court due to domestic violence then our solicitors can give you information about special measures that can be put in place and make an application to the Family Court.

How can a solicitor help with civil partnership dissolution?

Our specialist civil partnership dissolution solicitors can help from the very start of the process by listening to you, helping select the best fact to rely upon in your dissolution petition and guiding you through the legal process. It can be costly and time consuming to correct mistakes later on in the process so it makes sense to seek legal advice from the start.

I want to separate from my civil partner but I’m not sure about applying for a dissolution. Is there anything else I can do?

If you do not want to dissolve your civil partnership, or if you have been civil partners for less than a year and can’t apply for a dissolution, you can apply to the Family Court for a judicial separation/separation order. You will have to rely on one of the following four facts;

  1. Unreasonable behaviour
  2. Two years separation with consent
  3. Five years separation
  4. Desertion

If you get a separation order as a result of the judicial separation process and at a later point you want to dissolve the civil partnership you will be able to rely on the same evidence you used to obtain the separation order. 

It isn’t a process that suits most couples wishing to leave a civil partnership and isn’t often used. It can suit some circumstances if religious reasons mean that the couple are opposed to a dissolution. Our specialist solicitors can provide you with individual, tailored advice.

Contact AFG about your Civil Partnership

The solicitors at AFG can offer specialist legal guidance on any area of your civil partnership dissolution. For more information on how we can help you, call us on 01204 920 105.

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