You can apply to end (‘dissolve’) your civil partnership if you have been in the partnership for at least a year.
There are 3 main steps to ending a civil partnership:
- File a dissolution petition – you have to apply to court for permission to end your civil partnership, and show reasons why you want to split up.
- Apply for a conditional order – if your civil partner agrees to the petition, you’ll get a document saying there’s no reason you can’t divorce.
- Apply for a final order – this legally ends your civil partnership – you need to wait 6 weeks after you get the conditional order before you can apply.
Ending a civil partnership without using solicitors
You may be able to arrange your own divorce without involving solicitors if you agree on:
- the reasons for dissolving the civil partnership
- how you’ll split up money, property and possessions
- how you’ll look after any children
If you agree on these things beforehand, you won’t have to go to a court hearing, and the paperwork should be fairly straightforward.
You have to show the relationship has irretrievably broken down, and that you have good reasons for ending the civil partnership.
There are 4 grounds for ending a civil partnership.
Your partner has behaved so badly that you can no longer bear to live with them.
This could include:
- physical or mental cruelty
- verbal or physical abuse
- being irresponsible with money
- being sexually unfaithful
Your partner has left you:
- without your agreement
- without a good reason
- to end your relationship
- for more than 2 years in the past 2.5 years
You can still claim desertion if you have lived together for up to a total of 6 months within this period.
You have lived apart for more than 2 years
You can get a dissolution if you have lived apart for more than 2 years, and both agree to end the civil partnership.
Your civil partner must agree in writing to end the civil partnership.
You have lived apart for more than 5 years
Living apart for more than 5 years is usually enough to end a civil partnership, even if your civil partner disagrees.
To end a civil partnership, you first need to fill in a dissolution petition.
You must include your:
- full name and address
- civil partner’s full name and address
- civil partnership certificate – the original certificate or a copy from a register office
Include the names and dates of birth of any children (no matter how old they are).
Pay the court fee
You will have to pay a £410 court fee to file the dissolution petition.
You may be able to get help with court fees if you’re on benefits or a low income.
Send the forms
Once you have filled in the forms:
- send 2 copies to the court
- keep copies for yourself
Where to send the forms
Send the forms to your nearest court dealing with civil partnership dissolution.
You can get a conditional order if your partner agrees to end the civil partnership.
A conditional order is the first of 2 stages to getting the civil partnership dissolved – the second stage is getting a final order.
If your partner doesn’t agree to end the civil partnership, you can still apply for a conditional order. You’ll have to go to a hearing at the court to discuss the case, where a judge will decide whether to grant you the conditional order.
You must wait at least 9 days after your civil partner has received their copy of the dissolution petition.
Fill in the application form
To apply for a conditional order, fill in the application for a conditional order.
If your partner is defending the case, fill in section B of the form, saying you want a ‘case management hearing’ before the judge.
You also need to fill in a statement confirming that what you said in your dissolution petition is true.
There are 4 statement forms – use the one that covers the grounds you’ve given for ending the civil partnership:
- unreasonable behaviour statement
- desertion statement
- 2 years’ separation statement
- 5 years’ separation statement
The forms will need to show your civil partner:
- has received the dissolution petition
- agrees to the dissolution if you’re using the fact that you’ve been living apart for 2 years as your reason
- agrees with any arrangement proposed for children
Attach your civil partner’s response to the dissolution petition, and send it to the court. Keep your own copy.
The final order is the legal document that ends your civil partnership.
You have to wait 6 weeks after the date of the conditional order to apply for a final order.
If your civil partner applied for a conditional order, you have to wait 3 months and 6 weeks after the date of the conditional order.
The delay gives you a chance to discuss finances and other issues with your civil partner before the civil partnership comes to an end.
Apply within 12 months of getting the conditional order – otherwise you will have to explain the delay to the court.
To apply for a final order, fill in the application for a conditional order to be made final.
A final order costs £45. This fee won’t apply if you filed your petition after 1 July 2013, as it’s now part of the petition fee.
Return the form to the court with the fee. This will usually be the same court that dealt with your conditional order.
Getting the final order
The court will check that there are no reasons why the civil partnership can’t be ended. You must provide all details the court asks for within the time limits.
If the court is happy with all the information, it will send you and your civil partner a final order.
Once you get your final order, your civil partnership has ended and you can enter into another civil partnership if you wish.
You must keep your final order safe – you will need to show it if you enter into another civil partnership or to prove your status.
Children at the end of a civil partnership
You may need to make arrangements for your children if you end your civil partnership or separate from your partner.
You can make decisions with your ex-partner or with the help of a mediator.
If you can’t agree, some arrangements can be decided by a court order, including:
- where the children will live
- when they’ll spend time with each parent
- who’ll pay child maintenance
You must prove you’ve considered mediation before you go to court – this doesn’t apply in some cases, eg if there’s been domestic abuse.
More info on child maintenance is available here.
Find a solicitor if you need legal advice.
What if your partner lacks the mental capacity? They will need a ‘litigation friend’ to act on their behalf. Advice can be found on the UK Government website here.
Source of information: https://www.gov.uk
*Legal information given above is not legal advice. Please contact a solicitor to get legal advice.
- Housing rights at the end of a civil partnership
- Joint Debt: Who is liable in separation?
- Practical advice: Who to tell you have separated
- Civil Partnership: Mediation
- Civil Partnership: Child Maintenance
- Civil Partnership Dissolution: What is ‘unreasonable behaviour’?
- Civil Partnership & Marriage: Name Change