What is a civil partnership?
A civil partnership is a legal relationship that can be registered by two people who are not related to each other. The rights and obligations that civil partners have towards one another are mostly similar to that of married couples. Originally available only to same sex couples, civil partnerships were expanded to include opposite sex couples in 2019.
Same sex couples in a civil partnership can apply to convert to a marriage although this is optional. Opposite sex couples at present cannot convert a civil partnership to a marriage.
Dissolution or divorce for your civil partnership?
Divorce applies to marriage and dissolution to civil partnership but both processes allow the termination of the relationship under law. The process is the same for both. In order to dissolve your civil partnership, you will need to confirm that it has irretrievably broken down, meaning that it has ended permanently.
You are no longer required by law to provide a reason to the court for the breakdown of your civil partnership since the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. This can be done online now through a court portal although paper applications are still available.
Steps to end your civil partnership
It is worth noting that these steps are only relevant to divorce or dissolution applications made after 6th April 2022 because the law has since changed.
We would always advise to seek legal advice before starting a dissolution to ensure your rights and interests are protected before the process is commenced. It should be noted the dissolution itself does not end your financial ties to each other nor makes provision for any children of the family. These issues would need to be resolved separately and should be done before the dissolution is finalised.
A general overview of the steps are as follows:
- Decide who should apply: you can apply on your own (sole application) or together (joint application). If you apply on your own, you will be the applicant and your partner the respondent; if you apply together, one of you will be applicant 1 and the other applicant 2.
- Required information: civil partnership certificate to fill in the details of the dissolution application.
- Fill in the application: you can do so online or by post.
- Notifying your partner about the application: the court will normally send a copy of the dissolution application to your partner (‘serving dissolution papers’). You will only need to serve papers yourself in specific circumstances. You must serve the papers within 28 days of receipt of the issued dissolution application.
- How your partner can respond: your partner will need to tell the court that they’ve received the dissolution papers in the case of a dissolution and whether they agree or disagree. Your partner must respond within 14 days and can only dispute the dissolution in very narrow circumstances.
- Conditional order: you can apply 20 weeks after applying for dissolution; the court will decide if the dissolution can go ahead.
- Final order: you can apply for the final order 6 weeks and 1 day after the conditional order is made. This will permanently end your civil partnership.
How can Hanne & Co’s family lawyers help?
Our experienced family & divorce lawyers can advise on the dissolution and in reaching agreement on financial arrangements and/or children following separation or when there has been a breakdown or disagreement about existing arrangements.
Contact them today on +44(0)2072280017 if you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail or via the form below.