With the extension of civil partnerships from same sex to all couples, civil partnerships are likely to gain in popularity.
OTS civil partnership solicitors
To speak to a member of the London based OTS Solicitors family law team about starting civil partnership dissolution proceedings call 0203 959 9123 for an initial discussion about how solicitor, Behzad Sharmin, and the team can help you. Alternatively, you can contact us through our online enquiry form.
Civil partnership gives a couple the same legal rights and responsibilities as if they were married. That is why, if you want to end your civil partnership, you need to go through the same formalities as divorce proceedings.
If you do not formally end your civil partnership then you will not be able to enter into another civil partnership or marry. As marriage and civil partnerships are both recognised legal relationships, it is not surprising that the divorce and civil partnership dissolution process are very similar.
Dissolving a civil partnership
If you want to end your civil partnership, it is important to take expert legal advice before:
You leave the family home (if you have not already done so);
You reach a financial settlement with your civil partner;
You start civil partnership proceedings as the grounds and timing of the civil partnership proceedings can be important.
Grounds for dissolving a civil partnership
If you decide to start civil partnership dissolution proceedings the court process for dissolving a civil partnership is based on the procedure for obtaining a divorce.
Civil partnership dissolution proceedings can be started if the civil partnership has irretrievably broken down based upon one of four facts:
Two years separation with the consent of your civil partner;
Five years separation (the consent of your civil partner to the civil partnership dissolution is not necessary);
Although civil partnership dissolution proceedings cannot be started on the grounds of adultery, if your partner has formed a new relationship then that fact can be cited in an unreasonable behaviour civil partnership dissolution petition.
Unreasonable behaviour and civil partnership dissolution
It is always difficult for civil partners to know how much detail to put into an unreasonable behaviour civil partnership dissolution petition. Too much information about your relationship and the allegations of unreasonable behaviour are likely to upset your partner. Too little information may result in a family judge not being satisfied that unreasonable behaviour has taken place. It is a question of getting the balance right. Specialist civil partnership dissolution solicitors are experts at that.
Agreed civil partnership dissolution proceedings
You may question why it is so important to agree the grounds for starting a civil partnership dissolution petition. It is best to do an agreed civil partnership dissolution because:
Defended civil partnership dissolution proceedings take longer to complete and are far more expensive than an agreed civil partnership dissolution;
If the allegations in a civil partnership petition upset your partner or inflame the situation, you are far less likely to be able to reach an amicable financial settlement or an agreement over childcare and parenting relationships;
Who is to blame for the breakdown of your civil partnership will normally not affect the amount of time you get to spend with the children or the size of the financial settlement. However, spending a lot on legal fees to defend civil partnership dissolution proceedings can mean that because of the legal costs spent in defended civil partnership dissolution proceedings you have less money to spend on legal fees to sort out your financial settlement or to secure a child arrangements order.
Civil partnership dissolution timescale
The dissolution of a civil partnership can take anywhere between four to six months to complete. The time required to complete civil partnership dissolution proceedings is only a best guess estimate by even the top London family law solicitors.
Many civil partners think that civil partnership dissolution experts should be able to say exactly how long the court process will take but timescales are influenced by:
A civil partner deciding not to complete the paperwork quickly. This may be because they are busy, being awkward or have been advised to prevaricate by their civil partnership dissolution solicitor;
A civil partner not wanting to complete the civil partnership dissolution until a financial settlement is reached and a financial court order made. Although you can finalise a civil partnership dissolution without first agreeing a financial settlement it is sensible to take legal advice on the best option for you, as the advice will depend on your personal and financial circumstances.
International families and civil partnership
Civil partnership solicitors are asked whether civil partnership dissolution proceedings can be started in the UK if the civil partnership was celebrated overseas. Provided the civil partners meet the jurisdiction rules for starting dissolution proceedings in England, civil partnership dissolution can be started, even if one or both of you are not British citizens or the civil partnership did not take place in the UK.
As the rules on civil partnership dissolution and UK court jurisdiction are complex, it is best to get civil partnership UK advice quickly if there is likely to be more than one country in which civil partnership dissolution proceedings can be started.
The decision about where to start the civil partnership dissolution proceedings can have a massive impact on the financial settlement. That is why it is so vital to get the best international family law advice on your civil partnership dissolution options.
Civil partnership and financial settlements
A civil partner has the same financial claims on dissolution of a civil partnership as a married person in divorce proceedings. It is essential that all couples understand the difference in legal status between cohabitation, civil partnership and marriage.
A civil partner will be able to claim maintenance as well as make financial claims over the family home, pensions, any business assets, savings and investments. Those claims can be stopped if a financial clean break order is made in the civil partnership dissolution proceedings. The financial court order does not need to be made before the civil partnership proceedings are finalised.