The only ground for dissolution of a Civil Partnership is that the partnership has irretrievably broken down. This is proved by establishing the existence of one of four factual circumstances. These are:
a) Your Civil Partner has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue live with him/her.
b) Your Civil Partner has deserted you for a continuous period of two years or more.
c) You have been living apart from your Civil Partner for two years or more and your Civil Partner agrees to the dissolution of the Civil Partnership.
d) You have been living apart from your Civil Partner for five years or more. Consent from your Civil Partner is not necessary here.
The Civil Partner who commences the Dissolution proceedings is known as the Petitioner. This is due to the fact that they “petition” the Judge for a Dissolution of the Civil Partnership. The Dissolution Petition is a written document sent to the Court. The Civil Partner on the receiving end of the Dissolution Petition is known as the Respondent. This is because they respond to the Petition in accordance with the particular circumstances of each case.
As the Petitioner, you will need to lodge your Civil Partnership certificate with the Dissolution Petition at the County Court. You need to provide us with this as the information from it will be copied onto the Dissolution Petition. The Civil Partnership certificate will be sent to the Judge and the Court will retain it at the end of the Dissolution proceedings. It will be replaced by the Dissolution Certificate which will recite the information on that document and indicate that that Civil Partnership has then been dissolved. It has to be the original or a freshly written one by the Registrar or church warden. It cannot be a photocopy.
The general Dissolution procedure is as follows:-
1. Your Dissolution petition, statement of arrangements for the children, Civil Partnership Certificate and fee or fees exemption form are lodged at Court following your approval. The proceedings will be issued and given a case number and the documents will be served upon your Civil Partner by first class post. With those documents, a form entitled the acknowledgement of service will be enclosed which your Civil Partner must complete and return to the Court within 14 days indicating that they have received the Dissolution papers and whether or not they intend to defend the proceedings. Should your Civil Partner not return the acknowledgement of service within the time limit we will then consider alternative methods of service.
2. Upon receipt of the completed acknowledgement of service we will then prepare an affidavit (a sworn statement) on your behalf to confirm that the contents of the petition and any statement of arrangements for the children are true and correct. This will then be lodged at Court with a request for a date for pronouncement of the decree nisi. The District Judge will decide whether you are entitled to a Dissolution of your Civil Partnership.
It is appreciated that Dissolution of a Civil Partnership is a big step. Dissolution is not the only way and if there are difficulties but it is felt that the Civil Partnership has not irretrievably broken down, then local counselling/mediation services can be approached who could assist with a possible reconciliation. We can offer information about these services which you can then approach.
Some solicitors here belong to Resolution (formerly the Solicitors’ Family Law Association). This means that we will endeavour to conduct your Dissolution by encouraging and assisting you and your spouse to achieve as swift and painless a resolution of your differences as possible.
It is important to separate the process of dissolving your Civil Partnership from the issues of children and finances. These issues will be dealt with separately by the Court and explained by us separately, if these issues apply to you.
It is very important that you understand the importance of the preparation of a Will or a new Will. If you have no Will and die before the Dissolution Certificate is made final, your estranged Civil Partner will receive a substantial legacy. If you have a Will, then you should review it. It clearly may no longer accurately reflect your wishes.
Please note that you can stop the Dissolution proceedings at any time before Dissolution Certificate. The proceedings can remain open on the Court file if you simply wish to take some time to consider your position. Alternatively, the proceedings can be dismissed. There are certain rules governing this which can be explained to you if that is required.