Civil Partnerships

The civil partnership which came into force in England is designed to give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples. When you are in a civil partnership and it breaks down, then you will need the legal process to dissolve it, just as you would if you were a couple divorcing.

If you have been in a civil partnership and the relationship has broken down, then you will need to seek the advice of a solicitor to help you file a petition to dissolve the relationship. The grounds for dissolving a civil partnership are much the same as the grounds for divorce. You will need to get legal help to file a petition with the court that your relationship has irretrievably broken down. You will need to cite some facts to establish the irretrievable breakdown of the partnership; this can include the following,

  • Sexual infidelity or perverse practices
  • Unreasonable behaviour, which includes physical, emotional and mental abuse. Your partner’s financial problems etc.

A solicitor will help you to put your application to dissolve the civil partnership in the correct legal terms and on the appropriate documentation. Once both you and your partner have signed the forms to dissolve the partnership i.e. the dissolution is not contested, then the petition is filed with the court. As with contested divorces your solicitor will probably advise against it and try to get you and your partner to agree that the partnership has broken down. If one partner contests the dissolving of a civil partnership it can be a very expensive and long drawn out process, like a contested divorce.

Once you have filed a petition and it has been lodged with the court it will then follow the same process as a divorce and usually takes between three and six months. If the judge agrees to your petition you will receive documentation and then further documentation when the partnership is fully dissolved.

Most civil partnerships, like most marriages, may involve shared assets and shared finances and may require the judge to make a financial settlement. If you can agree the financial issues with your partner things will be much easier. Your solicitor will put the financial agreement before the court and providing the judge believes that you were both aware of what you were signing, he will sign it off and this will then become a final legal judgment on your financial affairs. Just as with a divorce, the break up of civil partnerships can be quite acrimonious, particularly when it comes to property and finances. While it is better and ultimately cheaper in terms of legal costs for you to agree a settlement, there are cases where this is not possible and the case will go before the court for the judge to decide on a financial settlement. Your solicitor will advise you that this could be very expensive and may even tell you roughly how much money you need to put aside to pay for it. The financial settlement is a separate case from the dissolution of the partnership and your solicitor will need to handle all the relevant legal documentation.