How to Dissolve a Civil Partnership

12 April 2017

If your civil partnership has irretrievably broken down, an application can be made to the Court for a Civil Partnership Dissolution.

To ‘dissolve’ your civil partnership, you must have entered into the partnership at least one year before applying to Court for a dissolution.

It doesn’t matter where you entered into the partnership, but in order to dissolve the partnership in England or Wales, you will need to meet certain residence conditions. For example, at least one of you must live in England or Wales.

You will not normally have to attend the Court or see the Judge to get a dissolution, unless your partner suggests he or she wants to defend the proceedings. This is quite rare and defended civil partnership proceedings usually cost much more.

How to Start Civil Partnership Dissolution

In order to start the Civil Partnership Dissolution proceedings, you will need to lodge a ‘petition’ at Court. This is the document that sets out the reasons why one person wants to dissolve the relationship.

The petition needs to be sent to Court with the original Civil Partnership Certificate (or an official copy). If the Civil Partnership Certificate is in a different language, it will need to be translated before it’s sent.

In addition to the petition and Certificate, you need to pay a Court fee. It’s sometimes possible to get an exemption from the Court fee if you are on a low income. For details see the websitefor help with Court fees.

Grounds for Ending a Civil Partnership

If the Court is to approve your civil partnership dissolution application, you will need to demonstrate that your relationship has irretrievably broken down. There are four facts you can use to prove this:

  1. Your partner has behaved unreasonably
  2. Your partner has deserted you
  3. You have been separated for 2 years and your partner agrees to the dissolution
  4. You have lived apart for 5 years

These facts are very similar to those used as Grounds for Divorce in divorce proceedings. However, in civil partnership dissolution it’s not possible for the petition to be made on the basis of adultery. This is simply because the legal definition of adultery does not extend to same sex relationships. If there has been an inappropriate relationship with another man or woman, it can be referred to in a petition for unreasonable behaviour.

The Dissolving a Civil Partnership Process

Once the Court has processed the documents, it will send the papers out to the ‘Respondent’. The Respondent is the person who has not started the proceedings but will be responding to them.

The papers will be accompanied by an ‘Acknowledgement’. This is a form which the Respondent needs to complete and return to the Court. If the Respondent agrees with the civil partnership dissolution then all they will need to do is sign the form and return it to the Court. He or she will not be required to do anything else in relation to the dissolution.

If the Respondent does not agree then he or she must indicate they want to defend the proceedings and the Court would list the matter for a hearing. This is extremely rare.

The next step is to complete a Statement in support of the petition. This is a form which must be completed by the ‘Petitioner’, meaning the person who has applied for the dissolution. The Statement will confirm that the information in their petition is true. The form may also contain other questions which the Petitioner will need to answer.

The Statement is then lodged at Court, together with an application for a ‘Conditional Order’. This is the equivalent of the Decree Nisi in divorce proceedings. Once the Judge has agreed that you are entitled to the civil partnership dissolution, he or she will fix a date for the Order to be pronounced in ‘open Court’. This is when the Judge reads a list of people whose divorces and dissolutions have got to this stage. After this, you can apply for a Financial Order.

The final step is to apply for the Final Order. You can only apply for the Final Order 6 weeks and 1 day after the Conditional Order is pronounced in open Court.

How Long does Civil Partnership Dissolution Take?

Generally speaking, it takes between 4 and 6 months to finalise the dissolution of a civil partnership, but outstanding issues in relation to the finances can sometimes hold things up.

The civil partnership dissolution process does not directly deal with issues relating to children and finances, unless separate applications are made to Court. It may also be possible to resolve these issues without attending a Court hearing, simply by lodging a written agreement at Court for a Judge to approve.

Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work to be done, that price will not change.

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