How do you end a Civil Partnership? – Civil Partnership Dissolution

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What advice can your solicitor give about ending a civil partnership? Simon Hawkins looks at Civil Partnership and Civil Partnership dissolution here…

What is a Civil Partnership?

A civil partnership is a legal union of either a same-sex couple or a couple of the opposite sex. A civil partnership gives the relationship legal recognition in a similar way to marriage. However, unlike marriage, a civil partnership does not have religious significance or ties.

For opposite-sex couples, there has always been the option of cohabiting or making that cohabitation more “official” through marriage. If the marriage then broke down the couple could apply for divorce and have rights protected under the Matrimonial Causes Act. For example to make claims on the family home, savings, pension etc. These assets would be divided under the Matrimonial Causes Act in a fair and reasonable way. This was especially important if you were the financially weaker party with little or no assets in your name. The Matrimonial Causes Act would recognise that you still potentially had a claim through the marriage to all assets in joint and sole names.

Marriage was not an option for same-sex couples and therefore the law could not offer the same level of protection and fairness as it did for opposite-sex couples. It was widely acknowledged that this inequality could not continue as the UK entered the new millennium.

The introduction of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 went some way toward correcting this. It allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships and if these partnerships ended, then the couple could rely on this legislation which broadly mirrored the Matrimonial Causes Act.

Subsequently the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples Act) 2013 has allowed same-sex couples to now get married. Further opposite-sex couples can now also enter into civil partnerships (following a court ruling in 2018)

Today we have a position where same-sex or opposite-sex couples can marry or enter into civil partnerships.

How to end a Civil Partnership

As with marriage, you must apply to the court for the dissolution of a partnership.

In marriage you apply to the court to divorce under a civil partnership you apply for dissolution. However, the process under both is very similar and generally just the wording that is different.

As with marriage, you must wait for a minimum of 1 year before applying for dissolution. If the minimum period of 1 year has passed then you can complete a dissolution application. As of the 6th of April 2022, you no longer need to provide a reason to the court for the dissolution, you merely have to say the partnership has irretrievably broken down. Also, the application can now be made by one party or jointly.

The application will be issued and the other party will have 14 days to file their acknowledgment of service. There are now only limited circumstances in which you can contest a dissolution.

20 weeks after the proceedings have been issued you can apply for the Conditional Order and 6 weeks and 1 day after this has been pronounced you can apply for the Final Order. This will bring the Civil Partnership to an end.

But as with marriage, it is important to consider how the finances from the civil partnership are to be divided. You should enter into an agreement with your partner and have this documented in a financial order approved by the court. It is often wise to do this before the Final Order is pronounced. Generally, it is a good idea to try and agree that financial separation during the 20-week period from the issuing of the proceedings to the pronouncement of the Conditional Order.

For expert family law advice, please contact our local offices in Gloucester and Stroud. If you have a quick question or would like to request a callback, you can also use our quick online enquiry form.


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