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How do I end my civil partnership?

View profile for Sarah Pennicott
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The number of couples entering into a civil partnership has increased in recent years; the most recent Office of National Statistics from 2017 show an increase of 2% compared to 2016.  With the increase in those entering a civil partnership also comes the increase in the number of those coming to an end.  Sarah Pennicott, Family Solicitor in our Portsmouth office, here explains how a civil partnership legally comes to an end, and how we can support you through this emotional change in your life. 

The process for ending a civil partnership is called a ‘dissolution’, which is similar to that of a divorce.  It begins with one party applying by completing a dissolution petition form. “It can be straightforward if both parties are agreeable to the dissolution,” begins Sarah.  “However, as with any separation, it can become acrimonious and more complicated in some situations, which is why we would always recommend seeking legal advice before you proceed.”

For what reasons can I end my civil partnership?

In the same way as ending a marriage, dissolution of a civil partnership can only be applied for once the first anniversary of that civil partnership has passed.  To bring a civil partnership to an end you need to prove that the relationship has broken down irretrievably through one of the following facts:-

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years separation where both parties consent to the dissolution
  • Five years separation where only one party consents to the dissolution
  • Desertion

The time it takes to end a civil partnership will depend on the particular circumstances of your relationship and whether you both can agree.  When you are able to agree, it will usually take between 4 and 6 months but where there are issues relating to financial matters, children or the dissolution itself, it can take significantly longer to finalise.

What is the process of civil partnership dissolution?

There are several steps in order to dissolve your civil partnership.  In summary, these are as follows:

  1. The first step is to submit your dissolution petition form to the Court.  This will then be sent to your former partner, known in this situation as the respondent, together with an ‘acknowledgement of service’. 
  2. That acknowledgement of service will need to be completed and returned to the Court with the respondent confirming whether they intend to contest the application to dissolve the civil partnership. 
  3. If they agree that the civil partnership should come to an end, they will need to complete the form to confirm this and return it to the Court, who will then provide you, known as the petitioning party, with a copy of the acknowledgement of service, enabling you to apply for a ‘conditional order’.  
  4. This conditional order is confirmation that both you and your former partner are entitled to end the civil partnership but does not actually dissolve the civil partnership. 
  5. Once six weeks and one day have passed from the pronouncement of the conditional order, you can apply for the final order.  It is the pronouncement of that final order that will bring the civil partnership to an end. 

In this situation, you will not be required to attend Court as the dissolution has been agreed by both parties. 

Dissolving a civil partnership where your former partner contests the dissolution petition will be slightly different.  They will need to complete and return the acknowledgment of service to the Court within the time limit, confirming within the acknowledgement that they wish to defend the petition and they are entitled to provide formal defence.  Once those documents have been returned to the Court, a preliminary hearing to consider the issues will be held.  If it is considered necessary and matters cannot be agreed, a Court hearing will be arranged for both parties to attend.  At that hearing, the Judge will determine whether you are entitled to dissolve the civil partnership or not. 

Sarah concludes, “Ending your civil partnership will be a difficult time, particularly if there are disagreements between you and your former partner.  It is important that you receive the right advice moving forward, not only to complete the legal steps required, but also to ensure that every other matter is considered, such as arrangements for your finances, property and children.  We have years of experience in supporting people through their civil partnership dissolution, offering compassionate yet pragmatic advice tailored for your own personal situation, allowing you to move on with your future.”

To find out more about dissolving your civil partnership, you can contact Sarah or a member of the family team on 023 8071 7431 or email familyenquiries@warnergoodman.co.uk.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.