Dissolution is a court process which dissolves your civil partnership, so that you are no longer legally tied to each other and you are free to marry or register a civil partnership with someone else if you wish. If you have decided to end your civil partnership, we can help you.
Our family lawyers are experienced in dealing with civil partnership dissolutions, given our long experience working with LGBT+ clients. A nationally-ranked family law firm with a reputation for cutting edge work and a modern approach, we work with clients all over the UK from our offices in London and the New Forest.
Dissolving a civil partnership is often one part of a wider picture if you and your partner are separating or untangling your lives together, and we can also help you with:
Untangling your assets and finances
Settling arrangements for your children
Resolving issues in relation to assisted reproduction and stored gametes/embryos.
You may need help, as a first step, understanding whether you are in a UK marriage or a civil partnership. If necessary we can help you untangle what your relationship status is under UK law, and therefore what process you need to follow to untangle it if your relationship has broken down.
You can (at least currently) only be in a UK civil partnership if you are in a same-sex relationship (for transgender adults, your ‘sex’ for these purposes is your legal gender as recorded on your birth certificate). You may be in a civil partnership if you have registered as civil partners in the UK or if you have entered into an overseas partnership which is recognised as a UK civil partnership automatically. You may also need to check that you are not in a marriage (which might be the case if you have married in the UK or overseas or if you have or if you have converted a previous civil partnership into a marriage since 2013). If you are uncertain of what your legal relationship status is we can advise you.
You cannot dissolve a civil partnership simply because you no longer want to be civil partners. To dissolve your civil partnership, you must satisfy the family court that your relationship has irretrievably broken down on the basis of at least one of the following grounds:
Two years separation provided that both partners agree
Five years separation
Some couples prefer to wait for two years so that a dissolution petition can be filed without the need to detail unreasonable behaviour. We are skilled at handling unreasonable behaviour petitions sensitively for those who wish to dissolve their civil partnership amicably before they have been separated for two years.
Yes. This is rare, but the family court can refuse to grant a dissolution if you do not satisfy the grounds for civil partnership dissolution set out in the law.
Civil partnership dissolution is a legal process which is dealt with by the family court. Although a judge will approve a dissolution and make a court order, it is very unusual to be asked to attend court in person. The steps for dissolving a civil partnership are:
The petitioner prepares a dissolution petition and sends it to the family court, giving details about the grounds for dissolution and setting out whether you intend to make any financial claims.
The respondent, who will have been sent a copy of the issued petition, completes and returns an acknowledgment of service form, indicating whether you accept that your civil partnership should end or intend to defend the dissolution. Most petitions are undefended, and this does not mean that all the financial or children issues are agreed; these will be dealt with separately.
The petitioner then completes a statement in support of the petition and files this with the court, asking the court to set a date for conditional order. At this stage a judge will look at the application and decide whether the grounds for dissolution are satisfied. If so, the judge will set a date for the final order. Six weeks and one day later, the petitioner can apply for the final order (and if he/she does not do so the respondent can apply instead after three months). When the final order is made, your civil partnership legally comes to an end.
The dissolution process generally takes 3-4 months and is completed on paper. In practice, many dissolutions take longer than this because financial and/or children issues also need to be resolved as part of the process. Although these are dealt with separately by the family court, any related negotiations or court proceedings concerning your finances or arrangements for your children may delay the conclusion of your dissolution.
There is a court fee of £550 (which may be paid by one party or shared).
If you would like our help in managing the dissolution process, the first step is usually to arrange an initial meeting to talk through the process as well as any related children or financial issues. We usually charge a fixed fee for initial meetings. From there, we can represent you in your divorce, making the application for you and ensuring the process is dealt with through to conclusion. We usually charge a fixed fee for this service.