Civil partnerships were introduced in the UK in 2005. They enable same sex couples to enter into a legal relationship similar to marriage, but with some differences.
Civil partnerships give same sex couples similar rights to married couples in a variety of areas such as pensions, tax and the right to apply for parental responsibility for a partner’s child.
Norrie Waite and Slater solicitors have an experienced family department who can help with pre-partnership agreements and dissolution of civil partnerships. We can also advise you on making a will, which is essential when entering into a civil partnership.
Pre-partnership agreements are broadly similar to pre-nuptial agreements for marrying couples. Prior to entering into a civil partnership they enable you and your partner to set out what will happen if the relationship should break down. They can include things such as how jointly owned property and possessions will be divided if the partnership ends.
Although pre-partnership agreements are not legally binding in England at this time, they can be taken into account by the courts if they have been prepared in the correct manner and within the appropriate safeguards.
Contact us for more information on pre-partnership agreements.
Dissolution of a Civil Partnership
If you wish to end a civil partnership you have to get permission from the court. The court can grant you either a separation order or a dissolution order.
Separation orders are generally used where the partnership has not yet lasted for 12 months, so a dissolution order is not yet available. The granting of a separation order means that you are unable to enter into another civil partnership until you get a dissolution order.
Dissolution of a civil partnership bears a number of similarities to a divorce. Dissolution cannot be made within the first 12 months of the legal partnership. To apply for dissolution it has to be proven that the relationship has broken down. This must be done using one of the following grounds:
- Your partner has behaved unreasonably
- You have been separated for two years and both agree to the dissolution
- One partner has deserted the other for at least two years
- You have been separated for at least five years (consent is not required)
The glaring difference between these grounds and the ones available for a divorce is that adultery cannot be stated as the basis for dissolution of a civil partnership. This is because the term adultery is a specific legal term relating to heterosexual sex. Infidelity can be stated as a reason for dissolution of a civil partnership under the heading of ‘unreasonable behaviour’.
As part of ending a civil partnership, arrangements may have to be made with regard to finances and children. It is possible to negotiate financial and property settlements in much the same way as with a divorce, these may involve property transfers, lump sum payments or ongoing maintenance.
Similarly, arrangements for residence of children and contact with the non-resident partner can be dealt with at the same time.
Contact our family department for more information about civil partnerships.
Our team of family solicitors comprises Resolution Accredited Specialists, Collaboratively trained lawyers and members of the Law Society's Children Panel.