How to dissolve a civil partnership

How to dissolve a civil partnership in England and Wales

Originally published on 28th October 2021 at 3:33 PM

Reading time: 2 mins

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a legal relationship that can be registered between two people of either the opposite sex or the same sex. Traditionally, only members of the same sex were able to enter into a civil partnership, until a change in the law in 2019. Conversely, same-sex couples weren’t able to marry until 2013. Civil partnerships can be converted into marriages in England and Wales.

As with marriage, a person can enter into a civil partnership if they are over 16 (with parental consent if they are under 18), aren’t already in a civil partnership and aren’t closely related.

Whereas marriage ceremonies are centred around the marriage vows - no words need to be spoken in a civil partnership event (or ceremony depending on the discretion of the couple), with only the civil partnership schedule needing to be signed by both people. Whilst a religious organisation may host the civil partnership ceremony, the event itself must be secular (non-religious).

Step-by-step guide on how to dissolve your civil partnership:

Note: No-fault divorce will be implemented in April 2022, and the below information will be subject to revision.

Step 1: File the dissolution petition (Form D8):

If you’ve decided to end your civil partnership, you may be confused as to where to start the process. Firstly, you will need to ‘file’ your dissolution petition. Unlike with divorce, you aren’t able to dissolve your civil partnership online, and therefore you will have to post your dissolution petition to the court. As of September 2021, all new petitions must go to the Family Court at Bury St. Edmunds. You will need to fill out identical three copies (one that’s sent back to you, one that’s sent to your ex and one is kept by the court).

Not sure whether you should tick the financial box?

Grounds for dissolution:

Unlike divorce, you can’t use ‘adultery’ as the reason for the breakdown of the civil partnership.

Tip: If you’re not sure of which unreasonable behaviour examples to use in the petition, read our unreasonable behaviour examples guide here or use our behaviour writing service.

Step 2: Your ex responds (the respondent):

Once the court has processed your dissolution petition, they issue a sealed copy to your ex, along with the ‘acknowledgement of service’ form, which they will then need to complete. You will also receive a copy of the sealed petition to keep for your records.

Step 3: File the conditional order:

Once the court has registered your ex’s response, a copy will be posted to you, and you will then need to complete the D84 and D80 forms and attach a copy of your ex’s response to it. This is called the conditional order application. In divorce, this is called the decree nisi application. You can read about both here.

Step 4: Sort out the finances: (optional but advised)

Once you receive your conditional order pronouncement date and the subsequent certificate, you will be able to formalise any financial arrangements you have reached through applying for a consent order (or financial order).

Tip: Read our top tips for negotiating a fair financial settlement in our guide here.

What is a clean-break clause?

A clean-break clause is found within a financial order and ends all future claims. This is important to protect both your and your ex’s future assets once your civil partnership has been dissolved. Without this, you may both be able to claim from each other in the future. If you don’t have any assets now, but want to protect yourself from this in the future, you may wish to consider a no-asset clean-break consent order.

Step 5: File the final order:

Six weeks and one day after the conditional order pronouncement date, or after your consent order (if you have one) has been sealed, the petitioner (the person that filed the first petition) can apply for the final order which is the last part dissolving your civil partnership process.

Once you receive your final order certificate – your civil partnership is officially dissolved.

Tip: Keep the dissolution paperwork safe in case you should ever need to rely upon it and start your new chapter.

Resources:

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Holly Cooper
Holly Cooper
Holly is part of the marketing team at amicable. She is a Politics and Philosophy graduate who has an interest in human psychology as well as law.

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