Legal advice from Ruth Hetherington, Family Law partner based at FDR Law’s office in Frodsham
Dissolving a Civil Partnership
My partner and I entered into a Civil Partnership in 2005 but are now looking to end our relationship. What are the first steps we should take?
Sorry to hear that you have made the decision to end your relationship.
To formally end a civil partnership you need to get permission from the court, as your partnership has lasted more than a year you can apply for a dissolution order. In order to be granted a dissolution order you must be able to prove to the court that your relationship has irretrievably broken down a permanent basis.
There are a number of reasons why your relationship may have broken down on a permanent basis. Reasons for dissolution can be varied but can include behaviour reasons or the fact that you have been separated from your partner, for a minimum of 2 years.
The process starts with you presenting a petition for dissolution to the court. A solicitor can help with the drafting of the court papers and provide advice throughout. You will not need to go to court in relation to the dissolution process, so long as your partner does not defend the case.
You will need to consider what is going to happen financially as a result of your relationship breakdown. There are a variety of ways in which you can resolve those issues. It is always hoped that you can agree what is to happen. However, if agreement cannot be reached then you may want to consider using mediation or collaborative law. Only as a last resort should the courts be used to resolve any disputes.
Under the collaborative law process each person appoints their own collaboratively trained lawyer and you and your respective lawyers all meet together to work things out face to face. Both you and your partner will sign an agreement at the start of this process to confirm that you will resolve your problems without going to court. Both lawyers work with you and your partner to help you reach agreement. This process avoids the court system which can be costly and time consuming.
If mediation is something that you would want to consider, your solicitor will be able to refer you to a trained mediator. If agreement is reached through mediation, your legal representative can draft the necessary papers that would be lodged with the court to confirm that agreement.
Whatever process you decide upon to resolve your difficulties, both of you will need to discuss with your respective lawyers all issues that could arise, including decisions about your property and housing arrangements, financial support and possibly parenting arrangements.
Both you and your partner have a legal responsibility to support one another financially. Your solicitor will be able to suggest multiple ways financial support can be arranged and will do everything possible to keep the process as amicable as possible.
Your legal representative can help you come to a voluntary agreement where either party can agree to financial support or a family based arrangement. For example one of you may agree to make weekly payments to support the other partner or it can be decided that the costs of rent or mortgage payments will be shared. A solicitor can advise you as to whether your financial support agreement is appropriate. I would always advise that you have an agreement in writing in case of any future problems.
The ending of a relationship can be a difficult time for most people, an experienced solicitor in these proceedings can help make the process quicker and smoother and ensure you get the legal support you need throughout.