This page provides information on dissolving or ending a civil partnership including the grounds and reasons for ending the civil partnership, how to make an application and information on the overall process.
How can you end a Civil Partnership?
When a civil partnership breaks down either party can apply for dissolution which would legally end the civil partnership. Most dissolutions are granted by a judge on the paperwork unless one party disputes the dissolution.
You must have been in a civil partnership for at least one year before applying for dissolution. If you have been in a civil partnership for less than a year judicial separation may be more appropriate. For more information see our page on Alternatives to ending marriage or civil partnership.
The partner applying to court (the Applicant) has to demonstrate that the partnership has irretrievably broken down on the basis of one or more facts:
- Unreasonable Behaviour –actions that make it impossible to live with the other party e.g. domestic abuse, adultery, drug or alcohol addiction or irresponsibility with money.
- 2 Year Separation – the other party has to agree to this and you and the other party must been living separately for 2 years.
- Desertion – the other party has left the matrimonial home without a good reason or your consent and you have not been living with each other for 2 years out of the last 2.5 years.
- 5 Year Separation – you have been living apart for 5 years prior to the application being made. The other party does not need to consent to this.
Note that adultery cannot be relied on as a fact for dissolution however it may constitute evidence of unreasonable behaviour.
How do I apply for dissolution of civil partnership?
To apply for dissolution, you need to complete the dissolution petition form D8. The cost of the application is £550. If you are on a low income you may be eligible for a fee exemption and can complete the EX160 form when making the application. You may also be able to apply for legal aid if there has been domestic abuse in your relationship – please see our information page on Legal aid for family matters.
You will need to file a copy of your civil partnership certificate along with the application form.
Once you have completed the form, you will need to make three copies, keeping one for your records. You should send the following to court:
- the other two copies of the application form;
- your civil partnership certificate; and
- the fee (£550); and
- the fee exemption form, if applicable.
Once the court has received the application form, the Respondent (the Applicant’s civil partner) has 8 days to respond to the petition, stating whether they wish to dispute the dissolution of the civil partnership.
What happens if my partner agrees to end the civil partnership?
The Respondent (the Applicant’s partner) can agree to end the civil partnership. They need to indicate this on the ‘Acknowledgment of Service’ (form D10) sent to them by the court. Once this has been returned to the court and the court have forwarded you a copy, you can apply for a Conditional Order, using form D84.
What happens if my partner does not agree to end the civil partnership?
If the Respondent (your civil partner) disagrees and wishes to defend the application to end civil partnership, the Respondent will need to state this in the Acknowledgement of Service (D10 form) within the 8 days given. The Respondent then has 21 days to complete form D8B, giving their reasons for defending the application. The cost of this is £245. If you are on a low income you may be eligible for a fee exemption and can complete the EX160 form when making the application.
What is a Conditional Order?
A Conditional Order is the interim order of the court accepting the petition for ending the civil partnership. You will also need to complete a statement confirming your grounds for dissolution:
- ‘Unreasonable Behaviour’ statement – form D80B
- ‘Desertion’ statement – form D80C
- ‘2 Year Separation’ statement – form D80D
- ‘5 Year Separation’ statement – form D80E
You also need to file the Respondent’s response to the petition.
Once the court has received the Conditional Order application, the Judge will then decide whether to grant this.
What is a Final Order?
The Final Order is the document which ends the civil partnership.
Once you have received your Conditional Order, you have to wait 6 weeks and one day before you can apply for a Final Order. You should apply within 12 months of getting the Conditional Order. To apply for your Final Order, you need to complete form D36, which costs £45.
If you are the Respondent in an application for ending a civil partnership then you will need to wait 3 months and one day to apply for your final order. The fee will be £155. If you are on a low income you may be eligible for a fee exemption and can complete the form EX160 when making the application. A court hearing will then be held.
What happens with arrangements for the children?
On the initial application form for dissolution (form D8), you must include details of all children of the family. It is hoped that you and your partner will come to a joint private arrangement for the care of the children.
Any disputes relating to arrangements for children must normally first be addressed through mediation (for more information see our page on Family mediation). If an agreement cannot be reached, you can apply for a Child Arrangements Order under section 8 Children Act 1989. For more information, see our information pages on Contact and Residence.
The court has the discretion to make finance and property orders on or after a making a Final Order.
For information on annulling a civil partnership or on judicial separation, please see our information page on Alternatives to ending a marriage or civil partnership.
For information on ending a marriage, see our information page on Divorce.
Once you have ended the civil partnership, you should notify all relevant agencies of your change in circumstances.
In relation to financial aspects of the civil partnership, we would recommend you seek independent legal advice.
For details of solicitors to help with dissolution, you can visit the following organisations: