Civil Partnerships

A civil partnership provides couples with a legally recognised status that offers many of the rights and responsibilities similar to marriage, both during the partnership and when it comes to an end.

Civil partnership were originally introduced in 2004 to allow same-sex couples to form a legally recognised relationship. However, in 2018 this was expanded to allow any couple to form one. The benefits and recognition they provide relate to property, inheritance and tax, as well as to children and parental responsibility.

Property rights

Where a civil partnership ends or one partner passes away, the legal framework ensures that each partner has rights regarding property and assets acquired during the partnership. The division of property and assets is subject to the same principles as a divorce.

Inheritance

Civil partners have inheritance rights similar to those of married couples. In the event of a partner’s death, the surviving partner is often entitled to inherit everything.

Taxation

Civil partners can benefit from various tax advantages. For example, they may be able to transfer assets and inheritances without incurring inheritance tax. Tax benefits may also apply to pension arrangements and income tax.

Child maintenance and support

Civil partners have the same rights as married couples when it comes to parental responsibility for a partner’s child including the reasonable maintenance of one’s partner and their children.

Additional rights comprise the recognition of full life insurance, tenancy rights and next of kin rights in hospitals.

Our team of family law specialists can help you prepare for Civil Partnership. This might include preparation of pre-partnership (prenuptial) agreements, cohabitation agreements or wills.

Dissolving a Civil Partnership

There is a formal process for dissolution, which is very similar to divorce. As with divorces, it used to be the case that you had to give a reason for a dissolution but this was abolished in 2022. There is now only one reason, which is that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.

Dissolution process overview

The first aspect is to ensure you have a certified copy of your civil partnership certificate. If you don’t, then you cannot start the process.

Secondly you need to decide whether to make a joint application for dissolution, or a sole application. Clearly, if the relationship has become acrimonious, a sole application might be more appropriate. Once this is filed, it will usually be served upon the other party by the court.

It is not possible to block or dispute a dissolution unless the civil partnership was invalid in the first place or is already over. If dissolution could be blocked – as used to be the case – one party could “trap” the other into a relationship they did not want to be in. When doing a joint application, if one party later becomes uncooperative then the application can become a sole one.

The next step is to apply for a Conditional Order. You have to wait 20 weeks to apply for this, to reflect upon the dissolution and make sure you still want to go ahead. When you apply for this order, a judge will have a look at the dissolution paperwork. If the dissolution is not contested by either party, you won’t need to appear at court. If the judge agrees that you are entitled to dissolution, they will set a time and date when the court will issue the Conditional Order.

With Conditional Order in hand, in order to cement the dissolution, the last step is to apply for a Final Order. There is a minimum time period of 6 weeks and 1 day after the Conditional Order before you can apply for the Final Order.

We can help

We can help you with the preparation of the necessary paperwork to apply for dissolution and can guide you through the entire process, including any court procedures. Contact us today to discuss your requirements with our team.