Dissolution of Civil Partnerships

The procedure to end a Civil Partnership is much the same as that for divorce. Again there is only one ground for dissolution, that the civil partnership has ‘irretrievably broken down’. To establish this, the court has to be satisfied on one of the four facts laid down in the Civil Partnership Act 2004:-

·       the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;

·       the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years and the respondent consents to a dissolution order being made;

·       the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the making of the application;

·       the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.

Unlike divorce, adultery is not one of the facts that can be relied upon for establishing that a partnership has irretrievably broken down.

There is a bar to commencing proceedings within one year of formation of the civil partnership.

Separation Orders

In certain circumstances civil partners may not wish to apply for dissolution of the civil partnership and instead may apply for a separation order. A separation order is similar to a judicial separation. Proceedings may be commenced within the first year of the partnership. The applicant will have to establish one of the four facts listed above, but there is no requirement to establish that the partnership has irretrievably broken down. Within the proceedings the parties may apply for financial provision. The procedure is broadly similar to the procedure for judicial separation.


A civil partnership cause must be commenced in one of a limited number of courts known as Civil Partnership Proceedings County Courts. The procedure for dissolution of civil partnerships, nullity and separation orders mirrors the procedure for divorce, nullity and judicial separation. The terminology, however, is different. In place of a Decree Nisi, a Conditional Order is made and in place of a Decree Absolute of divorce, the court grants a Dissolution Order.

There are the same potential restrictions on making a Conditional Order final, as there are in divorce proceedings where the fact relied upon is separation for two or five years. In that situation a respondent may apply to the court to have their financial position considered.

If there are any relevant children, the arrangements for them will be considered by the court as would be the case in a divorce. If a solicitor is instructed, a certificate with regard to reconciliation must be filed. The proceedings may be adjourned if the parties wish to try to effect a reconciliation.

Presumption of Death Orders

A presumption of death order dissolves the civil partnership on the ground that one of the civil partners is presumed to be dead. The civil partner must have been absent for seven years. There are other accompanying requirements that must be met. A petition for presumption of death must, in addition to the information required for a petition for dissolution, contain additional standard information including details of the last place the respondent was seen or heard of.