Grounds for dissolution of civil partnerships
Dissolution of a civil partnership is remarkably similar to obtaining a divorce for married couples. There is only one ground for dissolution and that is that the civil partnership has broken down irretrievably.
You cannot apply for dissolution of civil partnerships until the civil partnership has been in existence for a year and you or your partner must have been resident in England and Wales or you or one of you reside in a European Union country, for at least six months immediately prior to the presentation of any application for dissolution.
You can apply for dissolution of civil partnerships if one of the following facts is proven to the satisfaction of the Court:
- That your partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with your partner any longer.
- That you and your partner have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the making of the application and both of you consent to a Dissolution Order being made.
- That you and your partner have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the making of the application.
- That your partner has deserted you for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of your application.
It is noteworthy that whilst adultery is permitted as a fact to be relied upon by divorcing couples, it does not apply to civil partners. However, such behaviour would be unreasonable.
The most common ground for dissolution of civil partnerships is “behaviour”. The test for “behaviour” is subjective and it does not need to consist of extensive violence, drug or alcohol addiction or other extreme behaviour. A combination of less obvious facts can be sufficient. Often issues like working too much (or not working enough), showing too much (or too little) affection, combined with a number of other similar factors are used.
Many considerations need to be taken into account, the first consideration being the welfare of any child of the family. The following factors are also relevant:
- The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each civil partner has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future including, in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity which would be in the opinion of the Court reasonable to expect a person to take steps to acquire.
- The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each civil partner has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the civil partnership.
- The ages of each civil partner and duration of the civil partnership.
- Any physical and mental disability of each civil partner.
- Contributions that each civil partner has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family.
- The conduct of each civil partner, if that conduct is such that it would be, in the opinion of the Court, inequitable to disregard.
- The value to each civil partner of any benefit that one civil partner because of a dissolution will lose his or her chance of acquiring (most usually pension provision).
The overall objective of the Court in deciding any issues concerning finances is achieving fairness between the civil partners. However, this can often be overridden by the reasonable needs of you or your civil partner, most commonly housing needs.
Guidance can be given by our Family Team on the procedures involved and the process employed by the Courts to reach any final decision. Alternatively, methods such as mediation or negotiation can often lead to a significant reduction in legal costs and delay, should it be possible to reach some kind of mutual consensus of how finances are to be dealt with. Please contact our Family Team for any further information that you may require. We also offer a fixed fee for straightforward applications for dissolution of a civil partnership as contained in the fixed fees section of our website, subject to the terms and conditions stated therein.