We understand that navigating through a civil partnership separation can be emotionally challenging and legally complex. Making this decision will not have been an easy one and important discussions lie ahead relating to your finances, property and children; all of which can lead to tension when you are attempting to move on to a new life.
Our experienced Civil Partnership Solicitors within our Family & Relationships department are dedicated to providing compassionate guidance and expert legal representation if you are facing this difficult situation.
Here, we answer several questions we are commonly asked relating to civil partnership dissolution and disputes. Should you have additional questions, we offer a free initial consultation to give you the opportunity to discuss your situation in detail and understand your various options. Contact a member of the team today to book your appointment.
A civil partnership is a legal relationship between two people of the same sex or opposite sex. It provides legal recognition and protection for the couple, offering similar rights and responsibilities as marriage including, but not limited to, parental responsibility, inheritance tax and child maintenance.
A civil partnership can be annulled if either party did not consent to the formation of the civil partnership, for example if either party was suffering from a mental disorder and could not give consent, or one party was pregnant by someone other than the applicant at the time the civil partnership was formed.
Prior to April 2022, in order to dissolve a civil partnership, you needed to demonstrate that your relationship had broken down based on one of five legal grounds. These grounds for dissolution were the same as in divorce cases and, in the majority of circumstances, placed blame on one of the parties, including adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for two years (with consent), or separation for five years (without consent).
However, the No Fault Divorce Bill introduced in April 2022 revolutionised the divorce and civil partnership dissolution process dramatically. Now, a married couple seeking a divorce or a couple in a civil partnership seeking a dissolution can make an application without attributing blame to one of the parties involved. The applicant party can make an application for divorce based purely on irretrievable breakdown of the civil partnership, without having to establish a fact to prove the same.
Your civil partnership must have lasted for at least a year before you can apply to dissolve it. If this is the case, the process of dissolving a civil partnership involves several stages:
Due to the timescales specified within the process, a civil partnership dissolution will take at least 26 weeks. This will no doubt vary depending on additional factors such as a delay in response from one party, any delays in the Court application process or a disagreement over financial arrangements, which should be finalised prior to applying for the Dissolution Order.
With the introduction of the bill in April 2022, this not only changed the process for a civil partnership dissolution but also removed the right for one party to contest the application. Now, one party involved in the civil partnership can make an application without the consent of the other party.
There are exceptions to this, for example if the validity of the civil partnership is called into question or there is an accusation of fraud or procedural falsehood.
If you have separated from your civil partner but you have not yet agreed to apply for a dissolution, you can enter into a Separation Agreement. This clarifies certain responsibilities, such as paying bills, who will remain in the family home and childcare arrangements until the time comes that you wish to apply for a dissolution. There are certain benefits and disadvantages to a Separation Agreement, which we can discuss with you during your initial consultation to establish whether this would be the appropriate course of action for you.
Once you have agreed to apply for a dissolution, you should have discussions surrounding your finances and your assets, in particular your home. It is recommended that you only apply for the Dissolution Order once you have come to an agreement about your finances and the Financial Order has been made and approved by the Court.
While this can delay the process, inevitably your rights could change following the dissolution and having a legally binding financial agreement is crucial to protect your assets.
Reaching agreements on such important topics can occasionally lead to disputes between you and your civil partner. You may be able to come to an arrangement amicably but if not we would always recommend you seek advice on alternative dispute resolution methods, such as collaborative law or Family Mediation. Both options give you more control and the opportunity to have your wishes heard without being subjected to the costs and potential delays of going to Court where the final decision will lie out of your hands with the Judge.
A civil partnership allows both parties the right to obtain parental responsibility for a partner’s child, meaning that upon dissolution they have obligations or rights relating to maintenance and visitation.
In the same way that financial agreements should be attempted between both you and your civil partner amicably, this also applies to arrangements for your children. In the event that this is not possible you can apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order, however the Court will need to see that you have attempted Family Mediation by attending a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting first. It is during this meeting that an independent Mediator will listen to both sides of the situation and consider the likelihood of reaching a resolution without resorting to Court. If Mediation is unlikely to be successful or it is not appropriate you can apply to the Court to have a decision made by the Judge.
Any Child Arrangements Order made will be legally binding.
While the dissolution process can be completed online yourself, we would generally advise that you seek legal guidance before proceeding. We offer a free initial consultation and you can use this time to discuss the application stages and any levels of involvement we can offer. Having experienced legal advisors on your side can take the burden off you regarding the application paperwork, ensuring responses are received on time, and provide advice on the financial and children arrangements.
It is prudent to update your Will after any life event, including a civil partnership dissolution, particularly as this does not automatically revoke an existing Will. As your relationship status changes, so may your wishes and how your estate should be distributed. Without updating your Will, there could be claims made against your estate in the future from your former civil partner, which would lead to drawn out legal claims and additional heartache for your loved ones.
If you are facing a civil partnership dissolution, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our Civil Partnership Solicitors within our Family & Relationships department are here to answer your questions and guide you towards the best path. Book your free initial consultation with a member of the team today by completing the Contact Form, emailing moc.n1695311877ellub1695311877rekra1695311877p@ofn1695311877i1695311877 or calling your local office: