In this article we will inform you of everything you need to know about ending a civil partnership.
A civil partnership is a way for couples, irrespective of their gender, to formalise their relationship, without getting married. A civil partnership gives the relationship legal recognition.
Civil partnerships create the same legal rights as marriages. These rights include those in relation to property and assets, tax treatment such as couples’ allowances and the same rights which apply in terms of inheritance tax. Civil partners can also apply for parental responsibility for a partner’s child or children.
A civil partnership gives a couple benefits that are not extended to people who are cohabiting. By entering a civil partnership, you become ‘Civil Partners’.
What happens if you end a civil partnership?
The process for ending a civil partnership is almost identical to the divorce process. However, legally, you do not get ‘divorced’ from a civil partnership. The correct term for ending a civil partnership is a ‘dissolution’ or dissolving a civil partnership.
A Final Order is a legal document from the Court that terminates a civil partnership. Once you receive this order, the civil partnership is officially dissolved.
Legally, dissolution brings your civil partnership to an end and leaves you free to marry or enter a new civil partnership.
It is important to note that dissolution may mean that certain provisions in your Will do not work as you might have intended them to. You will need to make a new Will quickly after the Final Order is made (or in contemplation of dissolution) to ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of your death.
Housing rights after a Dissolution
Unless a court orders otherwise, both civil partners have a right to stay in the family home they shared during their relationship, and neither can force the other to leave.
This is regardless of whether the property is owned or rented and whose name is on the mortgage or lease. In the long term, housing and finances are matters that need to be agreed when your Civil Partnership is dissolved and are regarded as a separate matter.
When can I end a civil partnership?
For civil partnerships in England & Wales you can apply to end (‘dissolve’) your civil partnership if you have been in the partnership for over a year. You must apply to a court to do this.
If you are not ready to dissolve your civil partnership or have been in a civil partnership for less than a year, you could make a Separation Agreement instead. In a Separation Agreement, you and your ex-partner can set out how you will manage day-to-day arrangements such as organising finances and caring for any children you may have.
The benefit of a Separation Agreement is that it gives you more time to think and reflect.
What documents do I need to provide to end my civil partnership?
You must provide the Court with a certified copy of your civil partnership certificate with your application. If you cannot find your civil partnership certificate, you can apply for a copy from the Registry Office in the district where you entered into the civil partnership or from the General Register Office.
If your civil partnership certificate is in another language you must arrange to have it translated and the translation certified by a notary public.
Can convert a civil partnership to marriage?
You can convert a same-sex civil partnership into a marriage at:
- a register office
- a local registration office
- a religious or approved premises where same-sex marriages are allowed – a ceremony may follow.
Following the conversion from a civil partnership to marriage, you will get a marriage certificate, dated when your civil partnership was formed.
You cannot convert an opposite-sex civil partnership to a marriage in England and Wales.
What is the procedure to end a civil partnership?
The procedure for ending a civil partnership is that you must confirm that your civil partnership has irretrievably broken down. Irretrievably broken down means the civil partnership has ended permanently and cannot be fixed.
It is no longer necessary to prove any specific ground for dissolution. The Court will rely on your declaration of the breakdown, and, if satisfied with the information provided, will process the dissolution.
Either civil partner may apply to end the Civil Partnership. There are two ways for ending a civil partnership – A sole application, or a joint application.
A sole application is made by one party to the civil partnership. The person applying for the dissolution will be the applicant, and the other partner will be the respondent.
If you and your civil partner agree that ending the civil partnership is the right way forward, you can apply jointly to end your civil partnership. One of you will be applicant 1 and the other will be applicant 2. Both of you will need to complete the Dissolution application form. Applicant 1 will complete most of the form. Other than that, it does not make any difference which of you is applicant 1 or 2.
The key benefits to a joint application for ending a civil partnership are as follows:
- An amicable dissolution – Joint proceedings reflect the fact that a couple both agree that the partnership has irretrievably broken down.
- Easier and quicker – By ending a civil partnership jointly, a couple can navigate the process together.
- No nasty surprises – Both parties are aware of the dissolution from the outset.
- Mutual Involvement – As both parties are fully involved in the process, neither party will feel left out as they are sharing the responsibilities and decisions involved.
- Emotional preparation – A couple can proceed when they both feel ready – allowing them time to emotionally prepare.
- Less acrimonious and traumatic – As both parties are jointly involved and have chosen to file together to reach a peaceful resolution, they can focus on the future, and not on the past. This encourages couples to cooperate constructively when considering important issues such as financial arrangements and arrangements for the children.
- Far cheaper – By ending a civil partnership jointly there is only one legal cost involved as you can receive joint legal advice (instead of paying for two separate lawyers).
Once the application has been agreed and issued by the court, a copy will be sent to your ex-partner with an acknowledgement of service form.
The other party has 14 days to complete the acknowledgement of service form, confirming they have received the Dissolution application and that they will not be disputing it, and sends it back to the court.
With a joint application for ending a civil partnership you will both have to separately confirm that you want to continue with the application at each stage of the process. If your partner stops responding, you will be able to continue with the application as a sole applicant.
You must then wait 20 weeks before you can apply for a ‘Conditional Order’. The Conditional Order is confirmation from the Court that you have satisfied the legal requirements to dissolve your civil partnership.
After the Conditional Order has been granted, you must wait six weeks and one day before applying for the ‘Final Order’. This is the final stage in the dissolution process. The issue of the Final Order officially dissolves the civil partnership.
How long does it take to end a civil partnership?
The time limits for ending a civil partnership takes approximately 7-8 months from application to Final Order. However, the process is likely to take longer depending upon how long it takes for the court to process each stage of the dissolution and how long it takes each civil partner to respond.
Frequently asked questions about dissolving a civil partnership
What is a civil partner?
A civil partner is a person who has entered into a civil partnership to formalise their relationship and commitment to another person, without getting married. Civil partnership offers a couple an alternative to marriage where they gain the same legal rights and recognition as marriage, but without getting married. By entering into a civil partnership, a couple become ‘Civil Partners’.
Can you have a civil partnership for straight couples?
Yes, a straight couple (opposite genders) can enter into a civil partnership. The Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019 amended and extended section 1 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 by allowing “two people” to form a civil partnership, as opposed to “two people of the same sex”.
What are the reasons for ending a civil partnership?
The only reason required to end a civil partnership is if you believe your partnership has irretrievably broken down. This means that your relationship has permanently ended and cannot be fixed.
When can I end a civil partnership?
You can end a civil partnership anytime after 12 months from the date of your partnership.
Is it possible to apply for a quick no fault dissolution?
It takes on average 37.5 weeks from start to finish to finalise a dissolution. However, if you make a joint application for dissolution this may shorten the process as an Acknowledgment of Service will not have to be sent as both parties are applying for the dissolution.
Is adultery grounds for dissolution of a civil partnership?
It is no longer necessary to prove fault or make allegations against your partner to obtain a dissolution. The only requirement is that you consider the partnership to have irretrievably broken down. An affair with another person may be the reason for the break down of the relationship.
What happens if you end a civil partnership?
Once a Final Order is made your Civil Partnership is dissolved and you are free to enter into another civil partnership or marry.
Why do some people choose civil partnership over marriage?
Often this is a personal preference. Some reasons are given in this video: Why get an opposite-sex Civil Partnership?
How much does it cost to dissolve a civil partnership?
We charge £200 to dissolve a civil partnership. There will also be a court fee payable to the Court of £593.00.
In total the dissolution of civil partnership process is £793 including VAT when using our Dissolution service.
Is a financial settlement part of the dissolution process?
No, the dissolution process deals with ending the civil partnership only. Financial matters arising from the dissolution is a separate process.