Civil Partnership Dissolution

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Civil Partnership Dissolution
Civil Partnership Dissolution
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How to end a civil partnership

Civil partnerships are an option for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, granting them equivalent legal rights to married couples, along with a formal process for ending the relationship.

When a civil partnership ends, the dissolution process involves formal legal proceedings. One party must file for civil partnership dissolution with the court to terminate the legal agreement.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 brought changes to this process, eliminating the requirement to state a reason for the breakdown of the partnership.

At DLS Solicitors, our nationwide solicitors specialising in civil partnership dissolution can assist with:

  • Filing civil partnership dissolution applications
  • Handling financial arrangements post-dissolution

Arranging child custody matters post-dissolution
Our clients are located in the UK and overseas. With our experience and expertise, we support clients through even the most intricate civil partnership dissolutions, ensuring a straightforward and productive process.

How to dissolve a civil partnership

The initial step in dissolving a civil partnership is to submit an application to the court containing the details of both parties and a statement of irretrievable breakdown. This can be either a sole application by one party or a joint application.

In the case of a sole application, the court sends the application to the respondent (the other party) along with an acknowledgement of service form. The respondent must respond within 14 days, confirming receipt of the application and indicating whether they contest the dissolution of the civil partnership.

The grounds for contesting a civil partnership dissolution application are limited to specific reasons, including jurisdictional issues (e.g., neither party residing within the jurisdiction), invalidity of the civil partnership, or the civil partnership already being legally terminated.

Upon satisfaction of the court, a date is scheduled for the conditional order to be pronounced. There is a mandatory waiting period of at least 20 weeks between the submission of the civil partnership dissolution application and the pronouncement of the conditional order.

Six weeks after the conditional order is granted, the applicant(s) can apply for the final order, signifying the formal dissolution of the civil partnership.

What are the grounds for civil partnership dissolution?

To seek a dissolution of a civil partnership, the partnership must have lasted for over one year.

The sole ground for dissolving a civil partnership is irretrievable breakdown, indicating that the partnership has irreversibly broken down. Previously, proving irretrievable breakdown required one of five specific facts, but the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act has eliminated this requirement.

Financial implications of a civil partnership dissolution

There are no strict rules governing your financial entitlements following the termination of a civil partnership.

Typically, there will be various options for dividing assets in your relationship, and it’s crucial to fully articulate your preferences within this spectrum to your lawyer. It’s possible that you and your partner can reach a mutually agreeable resolution, which can be formalised into a legally binding consent order.

Your civil partnership solicitor will assist you in navigating the factors that the court may consider, such as the parties’ ages, duration of the relationship, jointly and individually held assets (including property), as well as income and pension provisions.

If consensus cannot be reached, you retain the right to ask the court to determine asset division with your partner.

This process is distinct from civil partnership dissolution and mirrors the financial settlement process in divorce cases. You will require advice regarding your entitlements and may benefit from the expertise of a specialised family lawyer to facilitate negotiations.

What happens to property in a civil partnership divorce?

When dealing with property matters, there are multiple options available, and the choice you make will hinge on your specific circumstances and a comprehensive assessment of all jointly held assets. If you find yourself in this situation, you might contemplate:

  • Buying out your partner’s share
  • Selling the property and dividing the equity
  • Offsetting the property’s equity against other assets
  • Agreeing to a future buyout of your partner while they retain a charge over the property in the interim

Regardless of your decision, it’s crucial to document your agreement in a formal written contract, which can be drafted by a family law solicitor.

Can I get maintenance from my ex-civil partner?

Upon concluding a civil partnership, you have access to the same array of financial settlement choices as divorcing couples, which encompasses spousal maintenance. Your entitlement to maintenance will be contingent on various factors, including your age and earning capacity.

Parental responsibility for civil partners and married couples

Parental responsibility grants specific rights and duties concerning a child. Possessing parental responsibility enables you, among other things, to liaise with the child’s GP for medical treatment and discussions, as well as actively participate in the child’s education, including accessing school reports and attending parents’ evenings.

A mother automatically holds parental responsibility for her child, as do married fathers. Unmarried fathers may also acquire parental responsibility depending on factors such as the child’s birth date, the father’s presence on the birth certificate, or through a parental responsibility agreement or court order.

Upon registering a civil partnership, the non-parent partner legally assumes a ‘stepparent’ role towards any children born to their partner, including adopted children.

How to obtain parental responsibility

If you desire parental responsibility for your partner’s children, you can achieve this through the following methods:

  1. Entering into a voluntary parental responsibility agreement with every individual who holds parental responsibility for the child in question.
  2. Obtaining an order from the court, which could be a parental responsibility order or a residence order (granting parental responsibility to the person with residence for the duration of the residence order).

Parental responsibility ceases when the child reaches 18 years of age, or by court order before then.

This area of law is complex, and if you have any uncertainties about your rights and obligations concerning children, seek guidance from an experienced family lawyer.

How long does it take to get a civil partnership dissolved?

Civil partnership dissolutions now require a minimum of 26 weeks (approximately six months) to complete. This timeframe includes a 20-week waiting period before the conditional order, followed by a further 6-week waiting period for the final order.

It’s crucial to note that this duration represents the minimum timeframe. The dissolution process may extend longer, depending on the court’s ability to process applications promptly.

How much does it cost to dissolve a civil partnership?

The fee for submitting a civil partnership dissolution application, whether online or by post, is £593. Additionally, when opting to dissolve a civil partnership, you will incur expenses for legal advice from a solicitor to assist with completing the application paperwork, as well as addressing other matters like financial and child arrangements.

Our civil partnership solicitors are here for you

If you are contemplating dissolving a civil partnership or seeking further guidance on your options, our knowledgeable solicitors are available to provide support and expertise.

To schedule a complimentary 30-minute telephone consultation to discuss your circumstances, please contact us at 01625 460281 or fill out our contact form.

From the start to finish we were made to feel welcome every time and we had an appointment with Danielle Shawcross and her team. Whatever points we didn't understand the team did their utmost efforts to help us.
Barry Hadfield

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