Since 2004, when the Civil Partnership Act came into force, couples in a same sex relationship have been in a position to register their relationship legally in this country which gives them similar rights and responsibilities to married couples.
When a civil partnership comes to an end, either party can apply to dissolve the civil partnership. To prove that the relationship has irretrievably broken down, one or more of the following facts must be established:
-your partner has behaved unreasonably and you cannot be expected to live together any more;
-you and your partner have lived apart for 2 years and you both agree to the dissolution;
-you and your partner have lived apart for 5 years;
-your partner has deserted you for a continuous period of two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application for dissolution.
As with a Petition on divorce, any application to Court for a dissolution will need to enclose a Statement of Arrangements for children (if there are children of the family) and the civil partnership certificate (together with the court fee). Similar to the breakdown of a marriage, the dissolution is a two stage process. The Court will grant a conditional order and, six weeks following this, the Court can make the order final.
On breakdown of a civil partnership, the Court can make various orders in relation to finances. Similar to ancillary relief proceedings following the breakdown of a marriage, the Court has power to make various orders including:
-periodical payments (maintenance);
-transfer of property (where legal ownership of an asset is transferred from one spouse to the other);
-pension attachment and pension sharing orders.
The earliest time the Court can approve an agreement is after the conditional agreement has been made. It is however possible to negotiate an agreement through collaborative law or mediation, rather than making an application to Court. In most cases, the Court would seal the agreement reached but on occasions, it may ask for further information to be provided.
For more information regarding how the Court would assess the distribution of assets on dissolution, please see our page on financial settlements.
For more information regarding issues regarding children on dissolution, please see our pages on children.