Civil Partnership Dissolution: Insights from Divorce Lawyers

divorce, dissolution

Dissolving a civil partnership is a significant legal process that requires careful consideration and expert guidance. Similar to a divorce, it involves various legal steps and can impact many aspects of one’s life. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore key differences between divorce and dissolution, outline the grounds for dissolution, and provide a detailed overview of the dissolution process in the UK. 

What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Dissolution?

While both divorce and dissolution processes serve to end a relationship legally, they apply to different types of unions. Both processes require legal intervention and can significantly impact your life. Talking to London Divorce Solicitors can help navigate the legal complexities and ensure your rights are protected.

A marriage is a legal union between two individuals, recognised by law and often accompanied by a religious or civil ceremony. Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. It involves several legal practices, including the division of assets, custody arrangements, and financial settlements.

On the other hand, a civil partnership is a legal association between two individuals, similar to marriage but without some of the traditional aspects associated with marriage ceremonies. Dissolution is the process of ending a civil partnership.

While it shares similarities with divorce, such as the division of assets and financial matters, it specifically pertains to the end of a civil partnership.

Grounds of Civil Partnership Dissolution

When seeking to dissolve a civil partnership, the fundamental legal requirement is to demonstrate that the association has irretrievably broken down. 

Previously, individuals needed to prove the breakdown of their civil partnership using one of five specific reasons: desertion, unreasonable behaviour, adultery, two years’ separation with consent, or five years of separation without consent. This often required placing blame on one party, which could lead to increased conflict and emotional difficulty.

However, the new Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which amends the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004, simplifies this by removing the need to cite these specific reasons. Now, the sole requirement for dissolving a civil partnership is for one partner to submit a ‘statement of irretrievable breakdown.’

The court then accepts this statement as sufficient proof that the partnership cannot be saved, eliminating the need for further evidence or detailed explanations. This approach helps to minimise conflict and simplify the legal process, making it easier and less confrontational for partners to part ways legally.

Dissolution of Civil Partnership in the UK: How It Works

Dissolving a civil partnership in the UK involves a formal legal process consisting of several key stages, each of which plays an essential role in legally ending the partnership. Here’s an overview of how the dissolution process works.

1. Application for Dissolution

The process begins when one or both civil partners decide to dissolve their partnership. As of April 6, 2022, partners can choose to file a joint application, where both individuals are considered applicants, or a single partner can initiate the process.

The application includes all necessary details about the partnership, the parties involved, and an affirmation of the partnership’s irretrievable breakdown. While individuals can fill out and submit this application, seeking legal advice from a family law solicitor can help ensure all documents are correctly completed to avoid future complications.

2. Acknowledgement of Service

Once the court receives the dissolution application, it issues and sends a copy to the non-applying partner, known as the respondent, if it’s not a joint application.

The respondent must then fill out the ‘acknowledgement of service’ form within 14 days to confirm receipt and agree or disagree with the dissolution. This step is crucial as it establishes whether the dissolution will be contested or uncontested.

3. Conditional Order

The process moves forward after a 20-week cooling-off period, which allows for reflection and potential reconciliation. The applicant must confirm the application’s contents, which the court then reviews. 

If everything is in order and the dissolution is uncontested, the court issues a ‘conditional order.’ This order does not end the partnership but confirms that the court is pleased with the basis for dissolution.

4. Final Order

The final step in legally ending a civil partnership is issuing the ‘final order.’ This can be applied for six weeks and one day after the conditional order. If the original applicant does not apply for the final order within this period, the respondent has an additional three months to do so.

The final order officially dissolves the partnership, and it is crucial to keep this document secure as it serves as legal proof of the dissolution.

Once the final order is granted, the dissolution of the civil partnership is complete. Both parties are now legally recognised as single individuals, free to enter other partnerships or marriages. This finalisation marks the legal end of the civil responsibilities and connections between the partners, as defined by their civil partnership.

See also: How Do You Divorce a Spouse Who Is in a Foreign Country UK

How Long Does the Dissolution of Civil Partnership Take?

The duration of the dissolution process for a civil partnership in the UK generally ranges from six to eight months from the initial application to the issuance of the final order. The timeline can vary based on factors such as the case’s complexity, financial disputes, and how well the partners cooperate throughout the proceedings.

Key factors that may extend the process include unresolved financial issues. The courts require that all financial matters be settled before the dissolution is finalised, which can prolong the duration. Partners can expedite the process by agreeing on financial settlements early on.

After the court issues a conditional order, there is a compulsory waiting period of six weeks and one day before either partner can apply for a final order. If there are no objections or further complications, the final order can be processed, officially ending the civil partnership.

This final stage marks the legal conclusion of the partnership, freeing both individuals from their mutual legal ties.

Let Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors Help

If you’re facing the challenges of dissolving a civil partnership, Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors are here to help. With our expert family law team, we offer personalised guidance and strong advocacy to ensure your dissolution process is handled smoothly and efficiently.

We understand the emotional complexities involved and are dedicated to supporting you at every stage. For practical advice and dedicated service, reach out to us. Let’s discuss your particular needs and how we can help you acquire a favourable resolution.

Contact us today and take the first step towards a new beginning.


It means that the relationship has reached a point where it cannot be fixed or restored. This is the sole legal ground for dissolving a civil partnership in the UK, reflecting a conclusive decision that the partnership is beyond reconciliation.

Mediation is not compulsory in the dissolution process, but it is highly recommended. Mediation can help both parties reach mutual agreements on important issues like financial settlements and property division, potentially avoiding contentious court proceedings. 

The court fee for filing a dissolution application is subject to change, but it typically includes a fee for filing the initial application. At this moment, it is £593.

A financial order is a legal decision by the court that sets out how assets, debts, pensions, and other financial responsibilities are divided between the parties. It is crucial when partners cannot agree on financial matters. Obtaining a financial order ensures that financial arrangements are lawfully binding and enforceable.

It is recommended that dissolution solicitors who specialise in family law guide you through the legal complexities of the dissolution process.

Ask our Expert Legal Team

At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.

Call us on +44 (0) 207 269 9590 or fill out the form below. We usually reply within a few hours.

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