Civil Partnership

Civil Partnership

Although same sex couples are now able to marry, some may choose to enter into a Civil Partnership, or have already entered into such a relationship. Civil partners are treated exactly the same as married couples in relation to lots of legal issues.

When a civil partnership breaks down the couple have the same right to dissolve that partnership as would a married couple who wish to pursue divorce proceedings. The process is fairly similar but there are some differences and the procedure for dissolving a civil partnership in set out below.

What is the process for dissolving a civil partnership?

The Law relating to the dissolution of Civil Partnerships changed substantially on 6th April 2022 with the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (DDSA).

If the Petition to end the Civil Partnership is issued before the 6th April 2022, the previous law will still apply. Petitions (now to be known as Applications) issued thereafter will proceed under the DDSA 2020.

There is one ground for dissolution and that is ‘irretrievable breakdown of the civil partnership’. The fact that this is stated on the Application for dissolution is sufficient to prove the fact, and no further evidence is required.

It is now possible for an Application for dissolution of a Civil partnership to be jointly presented, as against the old law where one party had to proceed against the other, and allege various facts in support of the allegation of irretrievable breakdown.

The process is exactly the same as for divorce, with there being a mandatory cooling off period once an application is issued. Once the Application is issued by the court, a minimum period of 20 weeks must pass before one can apply for the making of a conditional order, and a further 6 weeks once the conditional order is made has to pass before it can be made final.

The Application can be made online, or on paper, but if a solicitor acts it is mandatory to do so using the digital format (i.e. online), with only limited exceptions being allowed under the new rules. The digital process is preferred if possible.

There are new rules for service of the application to dissolve the civil partnership, with the Application being served electronically, but when doing so the Court will also write to the Respondent advising that the petition has been issued, and served, online. The Court will usually be responsible for serving the application, but the Applicant can serve it themselves provided that they have made a further special application seeking permission to do so.