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Civil Partnership Solicitors

Our family law team advises on all of the legal issues relating to civil partnerships, including:

  • Drafting pre-civil partnership agreements to help couples organise their finances during the partnership and to provide for the division of assets in the event that the relationship breaks down.
  • Working with our private client department to advise you on Wills and property issues.
  • The legal process for ending a civil partnership called a dissolution.
  • The financial aspects of a dissolution.
  • Any children issues, such as living and contact arrangements.

We listen carefully to your concerns to ensure that we take the right approach for you. Our family law team includes mediators and collaborative lawyers, as well as traditional lawyers.

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a legal union between two people which gives them similar rights and responsibilities to married couples. Originally introduced in 2004 for same sex couples, civil partnerships were extended at the end of 2019 to include heterosexual couples.

Why have a civil partnership rather than a marriage?

There is no legal advantage in England and Wales to choosing a marriage over a civil partnership or vice versa, as both provide similar legal rights and responsibilities. Many people prefer a civil partnership because it does not have the religious or traditional connotations of a marriage. The ceremony does not take place in a church, but before a registrar.

Some foreign countries do not recognise civil partnerships, whether heterosexual or same sex. Therefore, legal advice should be taken if you require your civil partnership to be legally recognised overseas.

Pre-civil partnership agreement

Before entering a civil partnership couples may wish to sign a pre-civil partnership agreement, which sets out how the assets and income of the relationship will be divided if the partnership ends. This document is intended to support the couple during the partnership by making it clear how their finances will be structured and minimising any stress if the partnership sadly breaks down. At Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors we take a collaborative approach to pre-civil partnership agreements.

Grounds for ending a civil partnership

The process for ending a civil partnership is similar to a divorce. The person applying is called the petitioner and they must file a dissolution petition with the court. The only ground for a dissolution is the irretrievable breakdown of the partnership. The breakdown must be evidenced by one of four facts:

  • your civil partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them (unreasonable behaviour);
  • your civil partner has deserted you for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the dissolution petition (desertion);
  • you have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the dissolution petition and your civil partner consents to the dissolution being granted (2 years separation by consent);
  • you have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the dissolution petition (5 years separation).

Unlike divorce, “adultery” is not a ground for dissolution of civil partnership.

Frequently asked questions

How long does a civil partnership dissolution take?

A dissolution could take between 4-6 months from issue of the petition to the final stage, the Final Order. It may take longer if there are children or financial issues to resolve.

You can now apply for a dissolution online and we can file this for you. It is important to get advice before filing the dissolution petition to ensure that it meets your needs, particularly if you have children or any financial issues to resolve.

Who is entitled to apply?

You can apply once you have been in a civil partnership for more than one year and you can demonstrate one of the four facts above. You must also meet the jurisdiction criteria, which relate to whether you or your civil partner live in England and Wales. You will need to provide your original civil partnership registration or a certified copy.

Will a dissolution petition deal with the children and finances?

The petition is just the procedural aspect of ending the civil partnership. You will need to separately agree the terms of a financial settlement with your partner and the terms of any child arrangements. It is important to finalise a financial settlement before the Final Order. Our expert lawyers can advise you on these elements.

You could consider attending mediation to discuss the issues with your former partner or use solicitors’ correspondence or a roundtable meeting. We can advise you on the best approach for your matter to minimise the expense and stress of any dispute. Our family law team includes mediators and collaborative lawyers.

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Our offices are open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm.

Phone:0800 437 0322
Fax:020 7388 2106
Address:Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors
180 North Gower Street
London
NW1 2NB