Civil Partnership Dissolution
Although same sex couples can now legally marry, some still opt to enter a civil partnership. If you are in one and the relationship breaks down, you can apply to the court for the partnership to be dissolved. You will receive the same entitlements as a spouse who gets divorced, and can apply for financial provision.
The procedure for dissolution of a civil partnership mirrors that of divorce, although different terminology is employed.
The equivalent of a petition for divorce is known as an “application for dissolution”. A decree nisi is known as a “conditional (dissolution) order”.
If a Civil Partnership Breaks Down
If you are in a civil partnership and the relationship breaks down, you can apply to the court for the partnership to be dissolved but you cannot do so until the first anniversary of the civil partnership. You will receive the same entitlements as a spouse who gets divorced. You can apply for financial provision by way of lump sum, property transfer, maintenance and pension sharing orders. Financial provision can also be applied for in respect of any child or children of the family.
A civil partner seeking dissolution is entitled not to be evicted from the home that the couple has shared and can apply for an injunction order under the Family Law Act 1996 if there has been domestic violence.
Grounds for Dissolution
One difference between dissolution and divorce is that adultery is not a ground for dissolution. This is because the definition of adultery specifies a sexual relationship between a man and a woman in order to qualify. If your partner has been unfaithful, then this would fall under the ‘unreasonable behaviour’ ground for dissolution. Such behaviour can cover anything from infidelity to domestic abuse.
Aside from unreasonable behaviour, the other grounds applicable to divorce remain available to those in civil partnerships. These are:
- Desertion for a period of two years or more.
- Two years’ separation, with the partner’s consent.
- Five years’ separation, without the partner’s consent.
If you can provide evidence that one of these four criteria has been met, you will be able to proceed with the dissolution of your civil partnership.