Civil partners have the same legal status as a married couple in relation to elements such as tax, inheritance and financial provision on a relationship breakdown. Legal rights include:
In relation to children, the ability to apply for a parental responsibility order in the same way as a step parent in the case of a married couple
Access to compensation for fatal accidents
Inheritance rights including in relation to a tenancy
Entitlement to be treated in the same way as a spouse in relation to applications made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act
Domestic violence protection
Hospital visiting rights as next of kin
Benefits that arise from pension and employment
Civil partners are entitled to the same financial relief in proceedings for dissolution as those available to a married person namely:
Maintenance during and after the dissolution
Lump sum orders
Property adjustment orders
Pension sharing orders
If civil partners wish to separate and dissolve their civil partnership, they must apply to the court for a civil partnership dissolution order which is largely equivalent to a divorce in relation to a marriage, but with some notable differences. Our family lawyers have significant experience in dealing with the legal implications of a civil partnership breakdown and have aided many clients across Essex, London and further afield.
There is only one ground for a Dissolution Order which is the irretrievable breakdown of the civil partnership which must be evidenced by one of the four supporting facts. Unlike the divorce provisions, adultery cannot be cited to support the dissolution of the civil partnership. The four grounds that can be cited are unreasonable behaviour, two years separation, five years separation and desertion.
4 grounds for dissolution of Civil Partnership
To proceed based upon unreasonable behaviour, the court must be satisfied that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the applicant cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
The two years separation ground simply requires the parties to live apart for a continuous period of two years immediately preceding the date of the petition with both parties agreeing to the Dissolution Order being made.
The five years separation ground requires the parties to live separately for five years. Unlike the two years rule, the respondent’s consent is not required for this ground.
The final ground is that of desertion. One party deserts another where they cease to cohabit with their partner for a period of two years without the consent of the other (and therefore petitioning) partner.
An application for dissolution of a civil partnership cannot be made until the first anniversary of the civil partnership. As with a divorce, a civil partnership can also be nullified for a variety of reasons.
Civil partners have the same rights as married couples on divorce to a fair division of property, pensions and income and any other assets and contact that is appropriate and suitable for any children. In most cases, the Court will expect you to try and resolve matters with the assistance of a mediator before applying for an Order.
A lot will depend on the experience and capability of your chosen lawyer. Here at Pinney Talfourd, our specialist family lawyers in Essex and London are able to advise and assist you through this very difficult time and already have significant experience in civil partnership dissolution.
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