A civil partnership dissolution can be just as challenging as a divorce. Although a civil partnership is different to a marriage, the breakdown of the relationship can still be just as upsetting and confusing to navigate.
In today’s blog, we share a complete guide on ending a civil partnership and how you can best prepare yourself.
What is a civil partnership?
A civil partnership is defined as the legal union between a same sex or opposite sex couple. The partnership provides legal recognition for the relationship but should not be confused with marriage.
Originally introduced in 2004 for same sex couples, civil partnerships were then extended to opposite-sex couples in 2018. This legal relationship is formed when the couple sign as civil partners in the presence of a registrar and two witnesses. This partnership will only end through death, dissolution, or annulment.
Whilst a civil partnership has added legal rights and responsibilities much like a marriage, there are some key differences between the two and the processes that are followed during the separation process, which we will be highlighted in this article.
What is the difference between a civil partnership and a marriage?
Marriages and civil partnerships may share many of the same legal rights, there are some differences you must know.
One of the biggest differences is the religious connotations related to marriages are not usually associated with civil partnerships. A marriage usually consists of a civil or religious ceremony and will involve an exchange of spoken vows. Whereas with a civil partnership, the ceremony will be non-religious, there are no vows, it will take place in front of a registrar, and they are registered by signing a document.
Dissolving a civil partnership in the UK
Dissolving a civil partnership is very much like getting a divorce. You must have been in the civil partnership for at least 1 year before you can apply for a dissolution order. If the minimum period has passed, then either one person or the couple can jointly complete an application online. The separating couple will need to provide a colour version of their civil partnership certificate, as well as paying the relevant court fee.
Similar to no-fault divorce which was introduced last year, traditional ‘facts’ are no longer relied upon in order to prove the breakdown of the relationship. However, you will have to provide a statement within your application which highlight that the relationship / partnership has irreversibly broken down.
How does the process work with civil partnership dissolutions?
There are a few steps you need to take in order to end a civil partnership. It is important to familiarise yourself with the process, as this will help to relieve some of the stress from the experience and ensure it goes smoothly.
Before you apply for a dissolution of a civil partnership
Before applying to dissolve your civil partnership, you must find the original copy of your civil partnership certificate. The courts will need a colour copy of this to begin the process.
It is also recommended to sort out your child arrangements at this stage – if you have children, as well as the division of finances and any housing issues. This is beneficial for both parties as it can help to prevent the process from becoming lengthy or hostile.
As mentioned before, much like no-fault divorce, there is no longer a requirement to provide grounds for dissolving a civil partnership. The application simply must state that the partnership has irretrievably broken down.
What is a civil partnership petition?
A civil partnership petition is another way of saying ‘the application for the dissolution of a civil partnership’. If only one person makes the application, they are referred to as the applicant and then other person is called the respondent.
There is the option for both parties to make a joint application, which was implemented in April 2022.
How do I apply for a civil partnership dissolution?
To start the process, you must complete a form D8, which is a request to the court to end your relationship through the dissolution of either a civil partnership, divorce, or separation order. This can be done via the government website. However, this process can be made much easier with the help of a solicitor.
In the form, you will need to provide you and your civil partner’s full name and address, as well as the original civil partnership certificate. You will also need to include your children’s full names and date of birth. If you do not have your partners address, you should try and find it. Upon application, you will also need to pay the court fee which is £593.
Then, 20 weeks after submitting your application you will need to apply for a Conditional Order. This will state that the court sees no obvious reason as to why they cannot grant a civil partnership divorce or dissolution.
Afterwards, the Final Order can then be applied for six weeks and one day after the Conditional Order has been granted. The Final Order is where the partnership is dissolved, and you will be provided a legal document from the court which confirms this. You must keep this document should you decide to marry or enter another civil partnership.
What happens if my partner does not want to end the civil partnership?
Regardless of whether your partner does not want to dissolve the civil partnership or not, a Conditional Order can still be granted by the courts. In this case, the court will request for a hearing to discuss the case, and then they will decide whether to grant the Conditional Order.
If for whatever reason the original applicant does not apply for the Final Order, then the other party can make the application three months and six weeks after the date of the Conditional Order.
If an application is not made within 12 months for the Final Order after the Conditional Order has been granted, then an additional application will be required to explain why there was a delay.
In many cases the Final Order may be delayed due to the couple finalising the division of their assets.
A solicitor is always recommended in these situations, as they can deal with all the paperwork and court correspondence, as well as communicate with your ex-partner so that you don’t have to. This can make the process a lot less stressful when emotions are already running high.
Separating from a civil partner can be just as stressful as getting a divorce. By following the steps outlined above and seeking professional guidance from a solicitor, you will be able to get through this process smoothly and efficiently.
Are you considering a civil partnership dissolution? Get in touch with our team of friendly experts today.