Ian Butterworth
Partner & Solicitor
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Date Published:20 Mar 2017 Last Updated:14 Apr 2021

Ending a Civil Partnership

Family Law

Provided the process is managed correctly, dissolving a civil partnership is relatively straight-forward. The law and procedure is largely the same as that which applies to ending a marriage by way of divorce proceedings. The main differences are in terminology and the fact that a civil partner cannot issue proceedings on the grounds of adultery.

The first step to dissolving a civil partnership is to file a Dissolution Petition at Court. This is the same standardised form as that used for divorce proceedings. Assuming the other party does not wish to defend the proceedings, the next stage in the process is to apply for a Conditional Order. This is akin to the Decree Nisi in divorce proceedings and certifies that the legal formalities for a dissolution have been met. Six weeks and one day thereafter, the Petitioner is entitled to apply for the Final Order. This is akin to the Decree Absolute in divorce proceedings and is what concludes the dissolution.

The facts upon which dissolution proceedings can be commenced are as follows:-

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years’ separation with consent
  • Five years’ separation (no consent required)

Unlike a party to a marriage, a civil partner cannot dissolve their civil partnership on the grounds of the other’s adultery. Parliament (confirming earlier case law) has restricted the definition of adultery to voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Notwithstanding the above, a civil partner is able to refer to the infidelity of their partner in support of an application based upon unreasonable behaviour.

Should you require any advice or assistance with the dissolution of your civil partnership or with regard to your financial position following your separation, please do not hesitate to contact Ian Butterworth through this firm’s Family Department on 01202 636223. Ian is based in this firm’s Bournemouth office and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in complex matrimonial finance cases.