How Do I End A Civil Partnership?

Civil partnerships, available to same-sex couples since 2005 and opposite-sex couples since 2019, are a legal relationship formed between two people who, for various reasons, do not wish to marry (or in the case of same-sex couples were unable to marry). They provide most of the same rights and responsibilities that arise from marriage and can also come to an end when one or both partners, decide that they no longer wish to be in a relationship with each other.

In this case, what are the necessary steps to end a civil partnership?

The Legal Process

In order to start the legal process, known as a dissolution, rather than a divorce, it must be established that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. This can be demonstrated by one or more of the following four reasons:

  • The behaviour of your partner has been such that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
  • That you have been separated for at least two years and your partner consents to the dissolution.
  • Your partner has left you, without your agreement, for at least two years.
  • You have been separated for at least five years.

Unlike with divorce, adultery is not a reason that can be used to obtain a dissolution, but the circumstances that can give rise to adultery, could be used as an example of unreasonable behaviour.

The dissolution process begins by making an application to the court (which is now usually done online either via solicitors or using the GOV.UK website). This can only be done a year after the civil partnership was formed. The reasons for the end of the relationship must be included and a copy of the application will be sent to your partner to ask them to confirm whether they agree.

If they agree, the next stage is the ‘conditional order,’ which is the stage at which the application is considered by the court. If approved, the court sets a date for the making of the order.

This is not the end of the civil partnership, as there is a further stage known as the ‘final order.’ This is a straightforward application that can be made 6 weeks after the conditional order was made and will be the point at which the civil partnership is formally dissolved.

If you would prefer not to blame your partner but also do not wish to wait two years before starting the process, then the law is changing. From April 2022, it should be possible to end a marriage or civil partnership, under ‘No Fault’ divorce/dissolution, which allows couples to simply state that their relationship has irretrievably broken down, without having to produce evidence of this.

Financial and Children Arrangements

For many couples, it will not only be the dissolution of the civil partnership that needs to be considered, but also the arrangements in relation to any children that they have and/or the separation and resolution of any financial ties, such as what happens to the family home or any financial support one or the other might need.

While arrangements for children are often agreed informally, when it comes to finances it is important that a couple obtain a legally binding court order that confirms the arrangements. This is because as a result of entering a civil partnership, both will have the ability to make financial claims against the other, which may remain open even when the civil partnership has legally ended, unless there is a court order.

If a couple are separating within the first year of their civil partnership, or do not wish to start the formal dissolution process right away, then they could enter into an initial separation agreement to confirm the arrangements made.

Even though the relationship has ended, it is still possible for all matters to be resolved in a constructive way without the need for lengthy and costly court proceedings, with many couples now successfully using different processes, such as mediation or collaborative law to do this.

If you would like to discuss any issues relating to your civil partnership in more detail with one of our solicitors, we can arrange an initial one-hour consultation for a fixed fee of £50 (Incl. VAT). Please contact us on 01444 472700 or email

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