CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS

Civil partnerships give same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. If you wish to bring your UK civil partnership to an end then you’ll need to ask for a dissolution rather than a ‘divorce’. The procedure for dissolving a civil partnership in England is almost the same as the procedure for obtaining a divorce.

Dissolution proceedings can only be started if a civil partnership has irretrievably broken down based upon one of four facts:

  • Unreasonable behaviour;
  • Two years separation with consent;
  • Five years separation;
  • Desertion.

How long do civil partnerships in the UK take to dissolve?

A dissolution of a civil partnership normally takes anywhere between 4 to 6 months to complete. In some family situations a petitioner (the person applying for the dissolution) may be advised to hold off applying for what is known as the Decree Absolute. That is one of the reasons why it is sensible to get some civil partnership advice if you want to start dissolution proceedings or are responding to dissolution proceedings started by your partner.

I don’t currently live in England. Can I still get my civil partnership dissolved in England?

Potentially yes you can, provided that you meet the jurisdiction rules for starting dissolution proceedings in England. The rules are quite complex. It is always prudent to get civil partnership UK advice quickly if there is potentially more than one country in which Court proceedings could be started. The decision about where to start the Court proceedings can have a big impact on the financial settlement so it pays to get quick early specialist civil partnership advice if there is any possibility that your partner could starts proceedings in another jurisdiction.

 

Will I have to go to Court?

Unless your partner objects to the dissolution it is unlikely that you’ll need to go to Court.

If you can’t sort out the parenting arrangements for any children or a financial settlement direct with your partner, through Mediation or through solicitor negotiation you may need to go to Court to resolve matters. These applications are separate to the dissolution proceedings. Evolve family solicitors can guide and support you by looking at your options and reaching a resolution.

 

Do I need to name anyone else in the dissolution proceedings?

No, you don’t need to name anyone else in the Court proceedings. Courts don’t like third parties to be named as it makes the dissolution proceedings more complicated and therefore they can take longer to complete.

 

I received the dissolution petition. What should I do?

If you’ve received Court papers then you are a respondent to the dissolution proceedings. Court rules say that once you’ve received the petition a response has to be sent to the Court within seven days. You therefore need to contact Evolve to help you complete the acknowledgement of service form.

Many people who are responding to a civil partnership UK dissolution petition worry about the impact of agreeing to dissolution of their civil partnership on the future parenting arrangements of any child of the relationship or financial settlements. Evolve can put your mind at ease and guide you through the dissolution proceedings.

 

The petition has a ‘prayer’ and mentions financial claims. What does this mean?  

The petition is a standard government produced document .Every petition includes a “prayer” section asking the Court to grant dissolution of the civil partnership and asking for financial Orders.  It is usual to include requests for financial Orders even if all the applications will not be pursued by the petitioner actually starting a financial Court application; either because the family doesn’t have a property or a pension or because you have already reached a financial agreement. It is always sensible to get civil partnership advice about completing a petition if you are planning to start dissolution proceedings or if you are a respondent replying to the petition.

 

We have a child and haven’t sorted out who looks after them. Can we still get the civil partnership dissolved?

Yes, you can.

If a couple can’t agree on the parenting arrangements then either one of them can make a Court application for a Child Arrangements Order either before or after the dissolution proceedings are started. The Court can finalise the dissolution proceedings before any final decisions are made about how much time each parent spends with the child.

Courts encourage parents to try to reach an agreement on the arrangements for their child either by speaking direct, solicitor negotiations or Mediation before starting a Court application for a Child Arrangements Order.

We have not sorted out how the money and property is split. Can we still get our civil partnership dissolved?

Yes, you can.

The Court can grant a dissolution even if no financial agreement has been reached.  In some cases advice is given to delay applying for the Decree Absolute (the Court Order that dissolves the civil partnership) until such time as a financial settlement is reached because of the potential financial prejudice to one partner of finalising the dissolution proceedings without a financial agreement or Court Order. It is always sensible to get specialist civil partnership legal advice before finalising dissolution proceedings if you are a petitioner or before replying to the acknowledgement form if you are the respondent to the petition.

Our civil partnership has been dissolved as I have my Decree Absolute. Does that mean my ex-partner can’t make any financial  claims against me ?

No, that is not the case.

Your ex-partner could make financial claims for maintenance, a share of property, business assets or pensions unless you obtain a clean break Order. This Order can be obtained during the dissolution proceedings or after the dissolution proceedings have been completed. A clean break Order stops future financial claims and gives peace of mind. If there is no clean break Order you potentially could bring claims against your ex- partner.

There is no time limit to bring financial Court proceedings after dissolution so it is sensible to get a clean break Order if you want financial security. If you are likely to want to be the one making a financial  claim you should not delay as this may affect the amount of any financial settlement.