In December 2005 gay and lesbian couples obtained the right to enter into legally recognised civil partnership agreements under the Civil Partnership Act 2004. If civil partners feel their relationship has irretrievably broken down they can end the union by undertaking a civil partnership dissolution.
Grounds for civil partnership dissolution
As with divorce proceedings, a civil partnership dissolution cannot be applied for until one year of the union has taken place. In order to dissolve the agreement the court must be satisfied that the union has irretrievably broken down.
Parties to a civil partnership cannot use adultery as a ground for a dissolution as the legal definition of this action is “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person of the opposite sex, the two persons not being married to each other”. However, unfaithfulness is recognised as a form of unreasonable behaviour which may be used as ground for dissolution.
The civil partnership dissolution applicant will have to demonstrate one of the following to the family law court:
- The applicant’s partner has behaved unreasonably and that the continuation of the relationship is unreasonable;
- The civil partners have lived apart for a period of more than two years and now both agree to the dissolution;
- The civil partners have been separated for more than five years where only one partner is seeking the divorce; or
- The applicant has been deserted for over two years by their civil partner.
Financial settlements upon civil partnership dissolution
Family law courts are able to make financial orders for civil partners upon dissolution which can be made in respect of various issues; including transfers of property, lump sum payments, pension sharing, maintenance payments and maintenance orders for children.
The court will attempt to provide a clean break settlement between the parties, but will consider a number of factors including:
- Welfare of any children for which the civil partner or partners have parental responsibility;
- The partners’ individual financial situation in terms of earnings, assets and resources;
- The financial obligations and requirements of each partner;
- The family’s standard of living prior to relationship breakdown;
- The duration of the civil partnership and ages of the partners;
- Whether either of the civil partners has any special needs;
- Contributions each partner made to the welfare, upkeep and care of family and home;
- Any reprehensible behaviour it would be inequitable to ignore; and,
- Whether any disadvantage will be caused to either party financially as a result of the dissolution of the civil partnership.
Healys in London and Brighton for civil partnership dissolution advice
The financial considerations of dissolving any legal agreement are many fold and it is essential to get specialist advice which will protect your finances in the immediate and long term future.
The specialist family law solicitors at Healys in London and Brighton are experienced in all aspects of law surrounding same sex relationships including pre-civil partnership agreements (pre-cips), civil partnership dissolutions and financial settlements on dissolution.
Healys’ solicitors can help by listening sensitively and giving you straightforward legal advice so you can weigh up what options will work best for you.
Call direct to Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org