Ending a Civil Partnership | Marcia Mediation

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Civil partnerships were originally introduced in the UK in 2004 as an equivalent to marriage for same-sex couples, but over time things have become a little more complex.

For instance, in 2014 the first same-sex marriages took place, while at the end of 2019, mixed-sex civil partnerships were introduced in England and Wales, followed closely by Northern Ireland, and similar legislation is pending in Scotland.

All this means there are several different situations if you choose to separate, ranging from divorce of a mixed-sex or same-sex marriage, to dissolving a same-sex or mixed-sex civil partnership.

The law is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland too, so the guide below applies primarily to the current rules in England and Wales.

Grounds for divorce vs grounds for dissolution of a civil partnership

Ending a civil partnership is sometimes referred to as ‘dissolution’ and there’s an important difference between this and the legally accepted grounds for divorce.

Grounds for divorce include:

  • Adultery – Your spouse had sexual intercourse with somebody of the opposite sex.
  • Desertion – Your spouse has left you for a minimum of two years.
  • Separation – You’ve lived separate lives for at least two years and agree to divorce.
  • Separation – Your spouse doesn’t agree to the divorce but you’ve been separated for at least five years.
  • Unreasonable Behaviour – Controlling or coercive behaviour, physical violence, drug and alcohol addiction etc.

Grounds to dissolve a civil partnership include unreasonable behaviour, desertion and both separation grounds as described above, but not adultery – so what if your partner is unfaithful?

Cheating in a civil partnership

If you are in a civil partnership, whether same-sex or mixed-sex, you can still apply to end the civil partnership if your partner is unfaithful.

The important thing to note is that the legal definition of adultery means it must be between a man and a woman, therefore for same-sex civil partnerships it would not apply if your partner were to cheat on you with a member of the same sex.

Because of this, affairs and cheating in civil partnerships fall under ‘unreasonable behaviour’ but are still grounds for dissolution if your partner’s unfaithfulness leads you to separate.

If you have children

If you have children with your current spouse, you’ll need to make certain arrangements whether you are dissolving or divorcing.

These include agreements for looking after the children, as well as financial arrangements that make both parents responsible for the child’s quality of life.

Get help with civil partnership separation

If you are separating from your civil partner, whether same-sex or mixed-sex, Marcia Mediation can help you to understand the process you need to follow and the legal rules as they apply to your specific circumstances.

In many ways, ending a civil partnership is very similar to applying for divorce, but we have the experience and expertise to guide you through the important differences, especially as we understand civil partnerships are not discussed online as often or in as much detail.

Just like divorcing couples, mediation can help you to make fast, mutually agreed progress during civil partnership separation, ideally bringing the process to a close with the minimum of stress so that, if possible, you can stay amicable with your partner after separation.