Obtaining a dissolution order to end a Civil Partnership is usually straightforward, particularly if the couple agrees that the partnership is over. Difficulties tend to arise in resolving practical issues such as how to separate, where to live, arrangements for children and money matters.
Outlined below is a summary of the dissolution process highlighting key points and sets out a typical timetable.
Anyone who has been in a formal Civil Partnership for over a year, provided one of the couple either currently lives in or has lived in England or Wales during the preceding year. It does not matter where the partnership was made. If less than a year has gone by since the Civil Partnership – or if you don’t want to end the Civil Partnership – you can apply for a Separation Order which gives the court the authority to deal with financial issues.
There is just one ground: the Partnership must have irretrievably broken down.
The difference between dissolution and separation proceedings is that at the end of the latter, the Civil Partnership still exists and therefore neither of you will be able to enter another Civil Partnership or marry until a dissolution order is obtained.
We will draft the paperwork to start the proceedings. Your Partnership Certificate has to be sent to us and a copy submitted to the court at the start of your case. It will be returned to you at the end.
It is not necessary for financial discussions to be completed by the time the dissolution is final. Frequently they will still be in the early stages. However, it should at least be possible to resolve immediate problems and make any interim maintenance arrangements.
We may advise you to delay application for the Final Order until a financial settlement is ordered to protect your rights.
Court proceedings in family law are usually private. This means that the public and press are not allowed access to the court papers.
However, the press are able to publish the fact that a Conditional or Final Order has been pronounced. The information that they may disclose is very limited.
Either partner may start the proceedings. He or she is referred to as the Applicant. As of April 2022, you can also make joint applications within which the application is made by Applicant 1 and Applicant 2. The Application is sent to the court. A court fee is payable, unless the Applicant is exempt (or in a joint application, both Applicants).
The court sends a copy of the Application to the other partner, (called the Respondent) or to his or her solicitor, if there is one. In joint applications, this is not required.
(a) Within 7 days.
The Respondent should send the court a Acknowledgement of Service form, which accompanied the application.
The court sends the Applicant’s solicitor a copy of the acknowledgement of service.
The Applicant’s solicitor can apply for the Conditional Order 20 weeks after the Application is issued at the Court.
Proof that the Respondent has received the application will have to be obtained before the Applicant can take the next step.
A judge reviews the papers and usually pronounces the Conditional Order to be pronounced. This cannot be done before 20 weeks have passed, from the date the Application is issued.
(a) The Applicant may apply for the Final Order. This Order may be available as quickly as the same day.
(b) The Respondent may apply for the Final Order if the Applicant has not already done so. However, such an application is not automatically granted. If you are in this position as a Respondent we will provide you with full advice.