When can you obtain a dissolution?
A dissolution petition can only be filed when you have been civil partners for at least one year. Your civil partnership does not have to have been formed within England and Wales but you have to be able to satisfy the court that you have sufficient connection with England and Wales to allow you to issue dissolution proceedings. This is known as "the court’s jurisdiction".
What are the grounds for dissolution?
You must show your civil partnership has broken down irretrievably. You do this by establishing that:-
- Your civil partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her; or
- Your civil partner has deserted you for a continuous period of at least two years; or
- You have both lived apart for a continuous period of two years and your civil partner agrees to the dissolution; or
- You have lived apart from your civil partner for five years or more, whether or not your civil partner agrees to the dissolution.
The relevant fact is included in the dissolution petition, which is a standard document. In relation to each fact you must provide the court with supporting information, the most extensive of which will be in connection with behaviour.
What documents do I need to file with the court?
To commence dissolution proceedings you must file the dissolution petition relying on one of the above four facts. A statement of arrangements for children (if you have children), a certificate of reconciliation, your original civil partnership certificate and the court filing fee.
Do I have to attend court?
Attendance at court is normally only necessary if your civil partner contests the proceedings. You may have to attend court if you cannot agree what is to happen to your children or a financial settlement.
Are the dissolution proceedings held in public?
In family law, court proceedings are usually held in private although the press do have some rights to ask to be able to attend court. The court can limit what the press report. The conditional order is a document of public record and can be disclosed. This information is limited to the names of the couple and why the dissolution was granted.
How long will this take?
Under normal circumstances from the date a dissolution petition is issued by the court, the dissolution will normally take between 4-6 months to the final order stage. There is a further court fee payable to obtain your final order.
When can I form a new civil partnership?
Neither of you will be able to form a new civil partnership until the final order has been made by the court.
Are there any alternatives to dissolution?
Deed of separation - this can only be done with the consent of both parties. It is usually utilised to cover a period before a dissolution is obtained on one of the separation grounds. The deed allows you and your civil partner to set out the terms of your settlement, including all financial agreements and matters relating to the children. This is signed and witnessed and amounts to a contract that is enforceable.
Should I make a new will?
It is advisable to make a will to ensure your affairs are handled as you would wish in the event of your death. Do not assume that what you want to happen will actually occur in the absence of a will. Guardians for children need to be appointed in the event of a parent’s death.
Executors and trustees need to be chosen to handle the task of paying any debts and releasing your property and money to nominated beneficiaries. When you own property jointly will you want it to be sold to realise your interest or passed to the other joint owner(s)? If you have not made a Will, you could be leaving your family in a worse position than you intend. We can also assist you with a new Will, for more details click here.