Dissolution of Civil Partnerships

The process of dissolving a Civil Partnership is almost identical to that of divorce (save for a difference in the factors which can be cited).

The parties must have been in a Civil Partnership for at least one year before either can petition for dissolution. Prior to this, if the circumstances permit, the Civil Partnership can be dissolved by way of an annulment or by proving that the Civil Partnership was void or voidable.

The ground for petitioning for a dissolution is that the Civil Partnership has irretrievably broken down, then one of four factors must be cited, these are:

  • 2 years separation by consent
  • 5 years separation
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion

A brief summary of the facts of the case must be set out in the petition together with the full details of the Civil Partnership, once filed at court it is then the Respondent’s opportunity to reply.

Should the Respondent fail to respond or cannot be found then there are still options. A process server can be appointed and an application for deemed service filed, or the Petitioner can seek an order for substituted service whereby the papers can be served via email for example or where all efforts have been made to find the Respondent an order to dispense with service can be considered.

If the dissolution is agreed or an alternative order has been obtained then the Petitioner can apply for Decree Nisi, if it is not agreed then defended proceedings could ensue, although these are rare as they are costly and stressful and the view is that if one party wants the Civil Partnership to be over there is little point in arguing that it should not be.

Once Decree Nisi is pronounced the Petitioner must wait a period of at least 6 weeks and one day before Decree Absolute can be applied for. This period of time is set down as the perfect opportunity for the parties to settle any finances. If these are agreed then they need to be formalised into an order and sealed by the Court, if they are not then negotiations could commence and may even result in an application for financial proceedings.

Once Decree Absolute is applied for and granted the dissolution of the civil partnership is complete. Should the Petitioner fail to apply for Decree Absolute then after 3 months the Respondent can make their own application.

Decree Absolute is final, therefore the parties are free to enter into another civil partnership or marriage. Once a party has entered into another civil partnership or is remarried, they cannot make an application for matrimonial financial relief, this is why finances should be dealt with before the line is drawn under the entire process.

For queries or advice in relation to the divorce process please contact one of our specialist family lawyers Alicia Cenizo or Jessica Palmer.