Ending a civil partnership
Civil partnerships came into operation in the United Kingdom in December 2005. A civil partnership is in many ways similar to a marriage, carrying many of the same laws, only under a different name. Unfortunately though, just like marriages, Civil Partnerships don’t always work out.
There are three main categories that the ending of a Civil Partnership fall under; dissolution, separation and annulment.
What is civil partnership dissolution?
A civil partnership dissolution is very much like a divorce and once made it means that the couple will no longer be civil partners. Issues regarding property, finances and any children the couple may have will need to be resolved as part of the process.
Civil partnership separation
A separation is much like a dissolution except that the couple will still officially be civil partners and cannot marry or start a civil partnership with anyone else. This is the equivalent to a judicial separation with a married couple.
Civil partnership annulment
An annulment can be requested from a judge if either party does not think the civil partnership is valid or legal. Examples of this would be if one of the couple is under 16 years old or was already in a civil partnership or marriage with someone else.
Grounds for applying for a dissolution
For one of the parties to request a dissolution, the partnership must have been registered for over one year. Just as with a divorce, the person requesting the dissolution must provide evidence to show that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.
The most common reason for a dissolution is that the other party has been unreasonable. Some of the reasons that can be given for unreasonable behaviour include physical or mental abuse, financial irresponsibility, a dependence on drugs or alcohol, or sexual unfaithfulness.
The other main reason for a civil partnership dissolution is if the couple have been apart for a certain amount of time. If they have lived apart for two years and both parties agree, or for five years and only one party agrees, it is likely the dissolution will be granted. If one partner has deserted the other for more than two years without a good reason, this is also grounds for a dissolution.
Being a Petitioner or Respondent in a civil partnership dissolution
The first step in a civil partnership dissolution is for the person requesting the dissolution to complete a Petition. A petition is a document detailing the facts of the civil partnership and the reasons why he or she is seeking the dissolution. The other member of the partnership is then able to contest the dissolution if they wish to do so. If this happens it will go to court, though a fully contested trial is rare. The judge must agree that the partnership has irretrievably broken down before ordering dissolution.
The main advantage to being the Petitioner is that you will be in control of the dissolution process. However this will also involve you in doing most of the work and it will therefore be more expensive for you.
A petitioner can claim their legal costs from the Respondent if the parties cannot agree how the costs should be apportioned.
How long does a civil partnership dissolution take?
The entire civil partnership dissolution process typically takes between four and nine months.