Can I divorce my civil partner? (Legal Q&A)

Civil Partnerships are legal confirmations of relationships involving persons of the same sex. Ending a civil partnership is in many ways similar to ending a marriage, in the sense that the status afforded to each category of legal relationship is similar. However, the process of ending a civil partnership is commonly referred to as dissolution, not divorce.

As with a divorce, this process is best handled by an experienced family law solicitor, as a civil partnership entails the provision of similar rights over property and finance as a marriage and can have similar bearing on the ongoing care of any dependent children.

To get a civil partnership dissolved you’ll need to prove to a court the reasons why your relationship is no longer working. Your solicitor will ask you to evidence these as ‘supporting facts’ towards your case. To formally dissolve a civil partnership you must have been together for at least one year. As with divorce proceedings, you will need to demonstrate that your relationship has irretrievably broken down.

The four supporting facts acceptable for the dissolution of a civil partnership are:

  • Unreasonable behaviour by your civil partner
  • Absence from your home for more than two years, known as desertion
  • Separation for at least two years and agreement to the dissolution
  • Separation for at least five years if you cannot agree to the dissolution

Unreasonable behaviour is the most common grounds for dissolution and includes any behaviour which means that you cannot be expected to live with your partner any longer, for example physical or mental cruelty, abuse, irresponsibility with money or sexual infidelity. You will need to give sufficient detail on this behaviour, so be ready to supply dates when these incidents occurred. If the behaviour cited is over six months old, the court might decide it is not proven. In these circumstances you should consult your solicitor for legal advice.

If none of the grounds above apply, or you have not been in your civil partnership for more than a year, then you can apply for a legal separation instead.

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