Dissolving A Civil Partnership

Accepting that your civil partnership is over can be difficult enough. However, having to dig through divorce information in order to understand your own circumstances is even more trying. This page can help you to understand exactly what is involved in a civil partnership dissolution.

In England and Wales it’s not possible to apply jointly with your civil partner for a dissolution. Therefore, one of you must start proceedings by completing a Petition and arranging for it to be issued by a Court. The document is the same whether you’re applying for a divorce or a dissolution. Likewise, if you have children, this is treated in the same manner as if you were applying for a divorce.

Grounds for Dissolution

There’s only one ground for dissolving a civil partnership in England and Wales. That is that it has broken down irretrievably (i.e. there is no chance of you and your former partner getting back together). Unlike in a divorce, you aren’t able to use adultery as a reason for the dissolution. Therefore the four options that remain are:

Unreasonable behaviour:

Your civil partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to continue living with him/her.


You’ve been deserted by your civil partner and (s)he has been gone for more than two years;

Two years’ separation and consent:

You and your civil partner have been separated for two years or more and (s)he consents to the dissolution;

Five years’ separation:

You and your civil partner have been separated for five years or more and therefore you don’t need his/her agreement to the dissolution.If you wish to dissolve the civil partnership immediately (and haven’t already been separated for more than two years) you must rely upon your partner’s unreasonable behaviour.

Where can you dissolve your civil partnership?

Not all Courts are able to deal with the dissolution of civil partnerships. The Courts that can are:

  • Birmingham
  • Brighton
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Chester
  • Exeter
  • Leeds
  • London (The Principal Registry of the Family Division)
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle upon Tyne.

The Civil Partnership Dissolution Process

You must have been civil partnered for at least one year before you can apply for a dissolution. If you’re completing the Petition you’re referred to as “the Petitioner” and your former partner is referred to as “the Respondent”. You’re the Petitioner in the summary below.

Stage 1

You complete the Petition (and, if there are children, the Statement of Arrangements for Children) and lodge the documents at Court.

Stage 2

The Court issues the Petition (and accompanying documents) and sends copies to both of you. Your partner then completes the Acknowledgement of Service Form and returns it to the Court within seven working days of receiving the Petition.

Stage 3

The Court sends a copy of the Acknowledgement of Service Form to both of you. You complete the Statement in Support of the Dissolution and the Application for the Conditional Order and send them to Court.

Stage 4

The Court confirms that the dissolution can take place and the date and time when the Conditional Order will be pronounced (i.e. read out in Court). After waiting six weeks and one day following the Conditional Order, you may then apply for the Final Order.

Stage 5

The Court grants the Final Order and sends a copy to both of you as evidence that the civil partnership has been dissolved.