How to Dissolve a Civil Partnership

A civil partnership is a legal union that affords partners the same rights and responsibilities as married people. Ending a civil partnership can be just as traumatic as a divorce and filled with the same kinds of difficult decisions. The process is very similar as well. Here is some information you will need if you have decided to end your civil partnership.

What does a dissolved civil partnership mean?

While marriages can be ended by divorce, a civil partnership must be dissolved. Civil partnerships were originally designed to allow same sex couples the status of a legal relationship. The civil partnership was expanded in 2018 so that heterosexual couples who wanted marital rights without a marriage could have an option. Many couples who view marriage as an outdated institution and prefer to have no religious connotations attached to their relationship choose civil partnership. Divorce rights are not afforded to common law marriages, which is another reason that people have begun to opt for the civil partnership option rather than simply cohabitating, especially if they have children. A dissolved civil partnership is very much like a marriage that has ended in divorce.

How long does it take to dissolve a civil partnership?

The time required to process the dissolution of a civil partnership is just over six months. However, it can take longer than that if a financial application is also being made. Once an application is submitted, there is a 20-week cooling off period to allow the applicant to reflect and reconsider. After 20 weeks, the applicant can confirm the contents of the application and the desire for dissolution, and it's only then that the application is sent to the court. Once the court receives the application, there are several steps to take, and responses required from both parties. Assuming each partner is cooperative, the dissolution should be complete in six to nine months. If one partner does not want to be co-operative, or there are complicated financial issues to resolve, it can take much longer. In exceptional circumstances, a request can be made to expedite the dissolution, for example if one partner had a terminal illness and wished to see the dissolution completed, this would be a valid circumstance.

How much does it cost to dissolve a civil partnership?

Currently, the application fee for a dissolution is £593. However, court fees do change, so it's always best to check before you get started. In some cases, there is help with the fees i.e for someone with low income. You can apply for help with fees, but if you and your partner are making a joint application, you will both need to qualify for help or one of you will have to pay the full fee. In addition to court costs, you will need to pay a solicitor if you would like help. You can contact the individual law firm to obtain information about their rates and to find out about the service that they provide. If you've experienced abuse and your income is within certain limits, you may be able to get help from legal aid. If you feel your civil partner should pay the legal fees for the dissolution, you will need to apply to the court to make this request. However, it is rare that a judge will order that costs be paid by another party unless for example it is because of uncooperative behaviour on the part of your partner which has increased your costs, such as by trying to avoid being served with papers. The request for costs is separate from the original application and is applied for once the proceedings have started. To dissolve a civil partnership, you’ll need to know the following:

  • The civil partnership must have been in place for at least a year
  • Currently, there is no need to prove any fault or wrongdoing on the part of your partner. To file a petition to dissolve a civil partnership, you simply need to provide a statement confirming that the partnership has irretrievably broken down. If the relationship has been abusive, this may have bearing in hearings about arrangements for your children. However, this has no bearing on the civil partnership dissolution.

You can apply for dissolution online, but if you prefer to do a paper application you can get an application form from your local court. Although you can pick up paperwork from the court, the clerks of the court cannot give you advice about how to complete the documents, or about your rights. It is also possible to handle the entire dissolution yourself, but if you want peace of mind to ensure that the process is correctly completed and without unnecessary delays, you can instruct a solicitor to deal with your dissolution for you.

When you apply for your dissolution, you will also have the option to make a financial claim against your civil partner. If you tick yes to this, you will be able to keep your options open so that you can file a financial claim at a later date. You will need to submit a certified copy of your civil partnership certificate, whether by uploading it online or sending it by post. If you cannot find your certificate, you can apply for a copy from the Registry Office. If you are making the application on your own, it will be a sole application. You will be the applicant and your partner will be the respondent. If you and your partner both agree that the partnership is irretrievably broken, you can apply jointly to end the civil partnership. You will both need to complete the application form, one as applicant one and the other as applicant two. It does not matter which one is which, but the form will be primarily filled out by applicant one. If at some point one of you changes your mind about the dissolution and no longer wishes to continue, the other can switch to a sole application and the application will continue in this way

Once you file a sole application, the respondent is required to respond within 14 days which is done by filling out and returning a form called the acknowledgment of service which the court will then forward to you. If the respondent agrees to proceed with the dissolution, it will be called an uncontested application. If not, the respondent has 21 days to file an answer at court contesting the dissolution. There are very few acceptable reasons to dispute an application for a dissolution and the respondent cannot simply state that it is because he or she disagrees that the relationship is irretrievably broken. A dissolution can only be disputed for one of a limited number of reasons, namely that the court does not have jurisdiction, or the civil partnership is invalid, or the partnership has already ended legally. If a respondent wants to dispute the dissolution for one of these reasons, the fee is currently £245.

Once the respondent has been served and has responded, and the 20 weeks have passed since the date of application, the next step is to apply for a conditional order. Once this has been completed and filed with the court, it will be reviewed by a judge who will determine whether to grant the dissolution. As long as the dissolution is not disputed, you will not have to go to court for a hearing. The judge will simply review the documents and make a decision. If you are entitled to a dissolution, the court will send you a Certificate of Entitlement to Conditional Order. This will contain the date and time for your conditional order to be made at court, but you do not have to go to court for the hearing. The conditional order is just the first stage of the dissolution. Six weeks and one day after the conditional order date has passed, you can apply for the final order.

If the applicant does not apply for the final order within three months after the six weeks have passed, the respondent can apply. If you are applying for the final order, you must give your civil partner at least 14 days’ notice that you intend to ask for the conditional order to be made final. You must prove to the court that you sent this notice, by sending in a certificate of service. Once the final order has been made by the court, your civil partnership has officially ended. At that point, you and your partner are free to marry or enter a new civil partnership, if desired.

Legal help for civil partnership dissolution

As this can be complicated, it is important to have good legal advice when you are dissolving a civil partnership. When you need to choose a law firm, trust the reliable and approachable legal experts at Parfitt Cresswell. First formed in 1908, we have grown to a well-established and expanding regional firm with offices in London, Berkshire, Surrey, Sussex, and Kent, with nearly 100 members of staff. Because we understand that people often need legal services during an emotionally challenging time, we are focused on offering first-class legal advice and client service. Our excellent teams specialise in the provision of legal services including private client matters, family, property, commercial services, and employment law at each of our offices. When you’re looking for a legal team that will do more than just respond to your needs, we will make sure that you are in control, with all of the information and options you need to make an informed decision. Schedule a complimentary, no obligation consultation with us today. For clear, practical advice and efficient, courteous service, partner with the civil partnership solicitors at Parfitt Cresswell by calling 0330 912 1009 or contact us.

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