By Family Law Paralegal, Helen Savage
To end a civil partnership there is a set process that must be followed (which is similar to the divorce process). A Conditional Order is the first of two Court Orders that must be made before a civil partnership can legally end.
How to Reach the Conditional Order Stage
In order to start civil partnership dissolution proceedings, one partner must submit a petition to the Court. To show the Court that the civil partnership has broken down irretrievably, the person submitting the application to the Court (called the applicant) must cite one of the following four facts:
- unreasonable behaviour
- two years' separation with consent
- five years' separation
Unlike divorce, it isn't possible to be granted a civil partnership dissolution on the grounds of adultery.
Once the petition has been submitted by the applicant and issued by the Court, the applicant's partner (the respondent) will be sent an Acknowledgement of Service form to complete. Once this is completed and returned to the Court, provided the respondent agrees to ending the civil partnership, the applicant can apply to the Court for the Conditional Order.
Applying for the Conditional Order
The Conditional Order is the first of two Court Orders that will need to be made before a civil partnership can be dissolved.
The applicant can apply for a Conditional Order by completing the following two forms and sending these to the Court:
- Form D84, which is the application form for a Conditional Order
- Form D80B, Form D80C, Form D80D or Form D80E, which is a Statement in Support of the application for a Conditional Order. There is a separate form for each of the four facts mentioned above, and the form must be verified by a 'statement of truth' which is signed by the applicant.
The Statement in Support should include any corrections or updated information from the petition. If the respondent has signed the Acknowledgement of Service, the Statement in Support should also identify their signature. The respondent's completed Acknowledgement of Service should also be attached to the Statement in Support and marked 'A'.
Provided that the Court is satisfied that the applicant has proved one of the four facts, and there's no other reason to dismiss of the petition, the application will be approved.
Both the applicant and the respondent will then receive a Certificate of Entitlement to a Dissolution Order. This document will provide the date, time and place at which the Conditional Order has been listed to be pronounced. The separating couple will not need to attend, as the pronouncement will take place in their absence.
What if the Conditional Order Application Is Rejected?
In some cases, the Court may not be satisfied that the applicant is entitled to a Conditional Order. In this instance, the Court may request further information from the applicant or respondent. In certain situations, the Court may decide that a hearing is needed.
After the Conditional Order has Been Pronounced
Following the pronouncement of the Conditional Order, the applicant must wait six weeks and one day before they can apply for a Final Order. The Final Order will be the final stage of the civil partnership dissolution process and will legally end the civil partnership.
Again, the applicant will need to apply to the Court for the Final Order. Following the application, both partners will receive a hard copy of the Final Order from the Court, which will confirm the date their civil partnership legally ended. This document will replace their civil partnership certificate.
Severing Financial Ties
It is important to remember that whilst a Final Order will legally end a civil partnership it will not sever the financial commitment that exists between the couple. Ending the civil partnership won't automatically settle money and property arrangements.
In order to finalise these issues, an additional Court Order is needed. This is the case even if financial arrangements have been informally agreed between the couple.
If both partners agree on how their finances should be divided, the applicant should file a financial Consent Order with the Court. This can be done at any point from the date the Conditional Order is pronounced.