How do you end a civil partnership?

23rd June 2021 9:00 am Comments Off on How do you end a civil partnership?

To end a civil partnership, you or your partner will need to apply for dissolution.

To apply for dissolution, you must have been in a civil partnership for at least a year.

The person starting the dissolution process is called “the petitioner” and the other person is called “the respondent”.


The document that starts the dissolution process is called a petition. The petition is a form that gives the court information about you and your partner, and tells the court that you feel your civil partnership has irretrievably broken down. You must briefly set out evidence that your civil partnership has irretrievably broken down by supplying certain details in one of the following four categories:

  • Unreasonable behaviour: that your partner has behaved unreasonably;
  • Two years desertion: that your partner has deserted you for two years;
  • Two years separation: that you have lived apart for two years and your partner consents to the dissolution; or
  • Five years separation: that you have lived apart for five years.

Due to a legal technicality, it is not possible to ask for a dissolution on the basis of adultery, but the same circumstances can form the substance of a behaviour-related petition.

The petition is filed at court with a £550.00 court fee and your original civil partnership certificate.

Acknowledgement of service

The court, or your family solicitor, will send the petition to the respondent together with a form called the acknowledgment of service. In this form, your partner has to say whether or not they intend to defend the dissolution. The form has to be returned to the court. If the respondent has no intention to defend the dissolution, that may be the end of their part in the dissolution process and all further steps will be taken by the petitioner.

Conditional order

The next step is for the petitioner to complete a statement in support of the petition. This is another form that states that the contents of the dissolution petition are true and asks for certain technical legal details such as whether you have lived in the same household since a certain relevant date. Your family solicitor will then file it at court with your application for a conditional order. The conditional order means the court has agreed that you are entitled to dissolve your civil partnership, but has not yet made the dissolution final. After the court has received your application for a conditional order, a judge will consider your papers to make sure they fulfil the legal criteria and if they do the court will issue a certificate telling you when the conditional order will be pronounced.

The conditional order is pronounced in open court. This means the judge reads out a list of names of people whose dissolutions have got to this stage, this week. Although anyone can go along if they want to, you do not have to attend court when this happens. At any time after the conditional order, the court is able to make a binding financial order setting out your arrangements for finances and property on dissolution, either by consent or as a result of separate court proceedings. It will not do so unless you or the respondent ask it to or your separate financial court proceedings have come to a conclusion.

Final order

Six weeks and one day after the conditional order is granted, the petitioner can apply for the final order, which formally ends the civil partnership. Not everyone should apply for the final order as soon as it is available and you should make sure you have discussed whether you should do so with your family solicitor. It may not be sensible to apply immediately if, for example, financial arrangements are not yet settled.

Children and finances

For the purposes of any financial or children arrangements that need to be made, it doesn’t matter in most cases who starts the dissolution proceedings and why. You can ask the court to make orders about money and about children if necessary during (or after) the dissolution, but these legal processes are completely separate from the dissolution itself.

Your Will

Dissolution may mean that certain provisions in your Will do not work as you might have intended them to. You will need to make a new Will quickly after the final order (or in contemplation of dissolution) to ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of your death.

Contact us

We offer an initial one hour fixed fee meeting for £168 including VAT, during which one of our specialist family solicitors would be able to provide you with detailed and confidential advice about dissolving your civil partnership. To book an appointment, please call us on 01628 631051 or email

Categorised in: Family Law

This post was written by Colemans Solicitors LLP

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