This is a brief summary of the current law and procedure relating to dissolution of a civil partnership.
The Ground for Dissolution: There is only one ground for dissolution, which is that the civil partnership has irretrievably broken down. This breakdown can only be proved by establishing the existence of one or more of the following four factual circumstances:
- That the Respondent to the dissolution proceedings has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent
- That the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the making of the application, and both agree that there should be a dissolution
- That the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the making of the application
- That the Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the making of the application.
The Procedure: Shown below is a chart which sets out the basic procedure for an undefended dissolution of a civil partnership. The procedure for a contested dissolution is quite different and will be explained separately should the need arise. In a straight forward undefended application for civil partnership dissolution, neither party is likely to need to attend court.
Timescale: From start to finish, a straight forward undefended application for civil partnership dissolution is likely to take between about 4 and 6 months. However, it is possible that the final step of obtaining the Final Dissolution Order would be delayed until any financial or property issues are resolved.
Cost: The costs for a straight forward undefended application for civil partnership dissolution are likely to be in the region of:
(a) £500 plus VAT and expenses (such as court fees) for the Petitioner;
(b) £300 plus VAT for the Respondent.
It is possible that the Respondent may have to pay the Petitioner’s costs, or a contribution towards them.
The anticipated expense on a straight forward civil partnership dissolution is the court fee of £550 (as at December 2016).
These figures are only estimates and relate purely to the civil partnership dissolution itself. They do not cover costs relating to other issues, such as arrangements for children, or financial and property arrangements.
If a client wishes to deal with the dissolution without legal representation, with a view to reducing costs, we are happy to offer an “unbundled” service, so that, instead of dealing with the whole dissolution from start to finish, we only deal with specific pieces of work, such as checking through a document that the client has prepared to make sure that it complies with the legal and procedural requirements. It would generally be possible to agree a fixed fee for each separate piece of work, as and when that piece of work is requested of us.