Unless specified, this information relates only to England and Wales. If you live in Scotland, go to Parenting across Scotland for information and advice. If you live in Northern Ireland, go to NI direct.

The process and the terms used will be slightly different between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland because the law is not the same across the whole of England and Wales.

To dissolve a civil partnership you must prove it has broken down irretrievably.

You need to provide evidence of one of the following facts to prove breakdown:

  1. Your civil partner has deserted you for two years (meaning that they have left you and lived separately without your agreement and without good reason).
  2. You have lived apart for two years and you both agree to the dissolution.
  3. You have lived apart for five years (no agreement between you required).
  4. Unreasonable behaviour-your civil partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot be expected to live with them.

You can apply to end your civil partnership-a “civil partnership dissolution”- if you have been in a partnership for at least a year and one of the above facts applies. You must have a civil partnership that is legally recognised in the UK and have a permanent home in England or Wales in order to end or dissolve the civil partnership.

There are 3 main steps to end your civil partnership:

  1. File a civil partnership dissolution petition-you have to apply to the court for permission to end your civil partnership and show reasons why.
  2. Apply for a conditional order-this states that you are able to end your civil partnership, and can be applied for if your partner agrees with your civil partnership dissolution petition OR if you have a court hearing and the judge decides to grant you a conditional order.
  3. Apply for a final order-this legally ends or dissovles your civil partnership, and can be applied for six weeks after you get the conditional order.

You can find the dissolution petition and forms on Gov.uk’s page on Ending a Civil Partnership.

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