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What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a legally recognised union between two people of the same sex.  Couples who enter into a civil partnership have the same rights and responsibilities as couples in a civil marriage.

If you are contemplating entering into a civil partnership then you may wish to seek legal advice to clarify the implications of such a commitment. Pre-partnership agreements for same-sex couples can offer a sensible way of attempting to protect your assets, just as a prenuptial agreement can for same-sex marriages.

How can a civil partnership be dissolved?

A civil partnership is brought to an end by a Dissolution Order which is granted by the court. The pronouncement of a Dissolution Order cancels all legal responsibilities and duties of the civil partnership, essentially ending the legal contract between the couple.

The dissolution process does not include any financial settlements or arrangements for children.  These arrangements need to be made in addition to the dissolution itself. They can be formalised either by agreement or by an application to court if agreements cannot be reached.

What is the ‘ground’ for dissolution of a civil partnership?

There is one ground for the dissolution of a civil partnership – that it has irretrievably broken down. The person applying for the dissolution must prove that the relationship has broken down via one of four facts:

  • Unreasonable behaviour, whereby one partner has behaved in such a way that the other partner cannot reasonably be expected to live with them any longer
  • Desertion, whereby one person has been deserted by their partner for a period of 2 years
  • Two years’ separation with consent, whereby a couple have lived apart for at least 2 years immediately prior to the commencement of the dissolution process and there is consent to the Dissolution Order being granted
  • Five years’ separation, whereby a couple have lived apart for at least 5 years immediately prior to the commencement of the dissolution process. No consent is required in this instance.

As with married couples, civil partners are barred from applying for a termination of their partnership until a year has elapsed after the date of the civil ceremony. As with divorce, one partner must prove that the partnership has broken down irretrievably.

We can advise you on the provisions of this area of the law and we have the experience to guide you on issues such as finance and the division of property should your civil partnership break down. If you need to discuss any issues relating to the dissolution of a civil partnership then contact us. Call us on 0333 322 1000 or 0800 987 8156.

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