You will not be able to start proceedings within a year of entering into a civil partnership. There is only one ground for dissolution and that is that the partnership has irretrievably broken down.
To show that the partnership has broken down you will have to prove that either:
• Your partner’s behaviour is such that you can’t reasonably be expected to live with them
• Your partner left you at least two years ago without good reason (desertion)
• You have been separated from your partner for two years and they agree to the dissolution or for five years, whether they agree or not
Where there are children under the age of 16, or under the age of 18 and in full-time education, a statement of arrangements for children must be completed, setting out details such as who the children will live with, what schools they will go to and the contact arrangements for them to see the other parent.
Applying for dissolution of civil partnership
The person applying for the dissolution is referred to as the petitioner and the other party is the respondent. You will need to complete a petition setting out which of the above ‘facts’ you are relying on and supplying enough detail to satisfy the court that you have proved the fact.
It is rare for proceedings to be defended as both parties generally accept that the partnership has broken down. The court will send a copy of your petition to your partner, along with an acknowledgement of service, which they are required to return indicating if they do intend to defend the proceedings.
If your partner does not return the acknowledgement of service, then further copies of the papers may need to be served personally, either by a court bailiff or an enquiry agent.
If the court is satisfied that your partner has been made aware of the proceedings, but still has not responded, the dissolution can go ahead anyway, subject to certain conditions.
Statement in support
The statement in support of dissolution confirms the contents of the petition are true and asks the court to grant the initial conditional order of discharge. The judge will consider the papers and certify that they are satisfied that you are entitled to dissolution on the facts set out in your petition and supported by your statement.
The court will then fix a date for the pronouncement of the conditional order – you do not need to attend court for this or any stage of the proceedings, if they are undefended.
You will usually be notified of the date for the conditional order within about four weeks. Once the conditional order has been pronounced you will then be able to apply for the order to be made absolute six weeks later. However, if there are financial matters to be dealt with it is sometimes better for you to wait until these are settled, either by agreement or by order of the court. This will depend on your particular circumstances and we may need to advise you in more detail.
When you apply for the absolute you will need to complete a simple form and pay a court fee. You would usually receive the final order within a week of applying for it.
How long will it take?
Proceedings for dissolution of a civil partnership normally take between four and six months from the date proceedings are issued. This will depend on whether either you or your partner delays at any stage or whether your application is deferred until financial matters are finalised.
How we can help
We will advise you and help you to negotiate the right agreement for you. If agreement is not possible, we will guide you through the process of applying to court to deal with the issues.
Many people find it helpful to discuss the arrangements for children in mediation, when both parties meet jointly with an impartial mediator to discuss the issues and, hopefully, find solutions that are acceptable to both. If you would like to consider mediation please contact us for more information.
If you would like more information about dissolving a civil partnership, or you just want a confidential chat about your options please contact our friendly, supportive team today.