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The dissolution of a civil partnership can be an emotional and stressful time. Our family law solicitors, based in London, can provide you with the best legal advice and representation if you are divorcing your civil partner.
For more on how our Family team can help you, visit our dedicated Family Law site.
Our family lawyers in London are headed by Ms. Jordana Adams. With more than five years’ experience in family law and litigation, Ms. Adams is also a member of Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers who follow a strict Code of Practice designed to resolve family law matters in a constructive, non-confrontation manner. Resolution members also lobby for improvements to the family justice system.
As a law firm, we are committed to helping couples resolve family law disputes in a peaceful manner. As with all the best civil partnership dissolution lawyers, we work to avoid couples ending up in court; we support them to find workable, long term solutions to disputes over financial settlements and childcare arrangements. This is achieved by encouraging round-table negotiations and mediation, which we will explain fully to you and provide support and advice throughout the process.
Definition and formation of a Civil Partnership
The definition of a civil partnership, as set out in the Civil Partnership Act 2004, is a formal legal relationship between two people of the same sex formed when they register as civil partners of each other. Civil partners have the same legal status as married couples in relation to, for example, tax, inheritance and financial provision following relationship breakdown.
Two people are to be regarded as having registered as civil partners of each other once each of them has signed the civil partnership document at the invitation of, and in the presence of, a Civil Partnership Registrar, and in the presence of each other and two witnesses.
Dissolution of a civil partnership
The process surrounding the dissolution of a civil partnership is much the same as that which applies to obtaining a divorce; however, there are some key differences.
Like divorce, the only ground on which the court can grant the dissolution of a civil partnership is that the civil partnership has ‘irretrievably broken down’ as evidenced by one of the four supporting circumstances:
Unlike divorce, adultery is not included; however, such an action can be classed as ‘unreasonable behaviour’.
The civil partnership must have been in place for 12 months or more before a dissolution can be granted.
A civil partnership can be ended by filing a dissolution form with the Family Court.
Financial settlements in civil partnership dissolutions
Disputes over finances and property are the most common type of disagreement in family law. The same rules that apply to settling disputes surrounding finances in a divorce apply to civil partnership dissolutions. As stated by Lord Justice Thorpe in Lawrence v Gallagher, whether a claim arises from the dissolution of a civil partnership or a divorce is of little significance when it comes to the law.
The starting point is to look at the property and assets you own with your civil partner and divide them equally. However, often this will not achieve a fair financial settlement, especially if children are involved.
Our family law solicitors understand what is required to achieve a fair financial settlement. This includes ensuring all parties make a full and frank disclosure of their property and assets.
On the formation of a civil partnership, each civil partner has an obligation to make reasonable financial provision for the other both during the civil partnership and on its termination. This means that, if one party is in a stronger financial position, they may be required to pay the equivalent of spousal maintenance to their partner. The length of time spousal maintenance may be ordered for can be as short as a few months to indefinitely, depending on the circumstances of the relationship.
The considerations solicitors and the court will take into account when advising or deciding on the financial settlement include:
- the current income and future earning capacity of the parties to the civil partnership
- the financial needs and obligations of each partner
- the standard of living enjoyed during the civil partnership
- the age of each partner and the duration of the civil partnership
- any physical or mental disabilities of either partner
- the contributions that each civil partner has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family
- the conduct of the parties, to the extent that in the opinion of the court it would be inequitable to disregard it
We will advise you on where you stand in relation to these considerations and help you obtain a financial settlement that will help you move on to a positive future.
Arrangements for children
Civil partners have the same rights as married couples in relation to children. For example;
- a civil partner will acquire parental responsibility for the child of the other civil partner
- civil partners can apply for a Child Arrangement Order
- either civil partner is entitled to apply for financial provision for any child of the family
Ms. Adams and her team are committed to helping civil partners work out arrangements for their children in a non-confrontational and respectful manner. We understand that, despite separating, you and your partner will have to maintain a relationship for the sake of your children. By engaging in alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or negotiation, both parties can learn to communicate effectively and reach a solution that is flexible enough to work over the long term.
For a more detailed discussion on the dissolution of civil partnerships, or to book an appointment with a member of our family law team, please call us now on 0203 959 9123