Is a Divorce Petition needed in Civil Partnership Dissolution?

05 March 2019

When a couple decide to legally end their civil partnership, this is called a civil partnership dissolution. A divorce petition needs to be submitted to the Court to begin civil partnership dissolution proceedings.

The Difference between Civil Partnership and Marriage

A Civil Partnership is a legally recognized union of a same-sex couple, which grants them similar legal rights to a married couple. There are currently calls to allow civil partnerships for heterosexual couples, following a recent case where a heterosexual couple won their case in the Supreme Court, which ruled that not allowing them to enter into a civil partnership was a violation of their human rights. The Government is now reviewing the law, but in the meantime civil partnerships remain available only to couples in same-sex relationships.

The process for dissolving a civil partnership is very similar to the divorce process. The same form is used to begin civil partnership dissolution proceedings and divorce proceedings, and this form is commonly referred to as the petition.

How Does Civil Partnership Dissolution Work?

Making the decision to bring a relationship to an end can be a difficult decision for all involved. When beginning civil partnership dissolution proceedings, one person will need to complete a document called the D8 form and submit this to the Court. The D8 is the application form used to issue either divorce or civil partnership dissolution proceedings, and is commonly referred to as the 'petition.' The person who submits this form is called the Petitioner.

For the Court to agree to grant a civil partnership dissolution, the Petitioner will need to be able to show within the D8 form that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. To be able to do this the petitioner must rely upon one of four reasons.

These are:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • 2 years' separation with consent
  • 5 years' separation

One key difference between divorce and civil partnership dissolution is that those looking to begin dissolution proceedings are not able to rely upon the reason of adultery.

The reason that should be relied upon for civil partnership dissolution will depend on the couple's circumstances. It's a good idea for the petitioner to obtain legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor on the most suitable reason to rely upon within the petition. The Petitioner should then detail as much information as possible within the petition to support this.

What Else Needs to be Included with the Petition?

When the Petitioner is in a position to lodge the petition with the Court they will also need to provide the original civil partnership certificate or a certified copy. Without the certificate the Court will not proceed with the dissolution proceedings, except in exceptional circumstances.

A court fee is also payable (unless fee exempt). This should be paid when submitting the petition to the Court.

Stages of Civil Partnership Dissolution

The process for civil partnership dissolution is very similar to the divorce process, in that it follows the same stages.

In civil partnership dissolution proceedings, once the petition has been submitted by the Petitioner, it will be issued by the Court and a copy will be provided to the other party (called the Respondent). The Responded can then acknowledge the proceedings and confirm to the Court whether they intend to defend the dissolution proceedings.

Once the petition has been acknowledged, the Petitioner can then make an application to the Court for a Conditional Order. Once the Court has granted the Conditional Order the Petitioner must then wait 6 weeks and one day before they are able to apply for the Final Order. Once the Final Order has been granted, this will legally end the civil partnership.

The Petitioner should be conscious of any financial matters that may be on-going between the couple before applying for the Final Order. This is because the Final Order only ends the legal union between the couple and doesn't end their financial commitments to one another. This means that unless additional steps are taken to sever financial ties, either person could potentially make a claim to the other's finances in the future.

At Co-op Legal Services, our Family law Solicitors can provide help and legal advice on matters involving civil partnership dissolution and we are able to guide and support you through the process.

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