Civil Partnership Dissolution
Civil Partnership Dissolution
Dissolution of a civil partnership is a very difficult and emotional time for all those concerned. This is why it is important to access good quality legal advice at an early stage. Here at Harold G Walker solicitors we are experienced in dealing with civil partnership dissolutions and have the expertise to be able to advise you through the process. Our aim is to resolve any dispute efficiently through a collaborative approach or mediation to minimise any conflict or costly court proceedings.
To understand your options we offer a FREE initial 30 minute no-obligation appointment, so you can discuss your situation and concerns with one of our Family Solicitors at either of our offices in Broadstone, Christchurch, Verwood or Wimborne. They will provide you with an overview of the process and answer any questions or worries you may have. It will be very helpful if you could bring:
- Identity documents: passport/driving licence and utility bill stating name and address
- Information about your finances – joint and individual
- Pen and paper to write down notes from the meeting
- List of specific concerns that you have
For further information please contact a member of our Family team.
There are various options available to you when resolving disputes and it is important that you are aware of all these at the outset. This way, you can choose the right way forward for you and your own situation. The options are set out below:
It is important to consider the possibility of reconciliation. We can discuss this with you and put you in touch with recommended specialists and counsellors, who can provide counselling both for individuals and couples.
This is where you come to an agreement yourselves by talking to each other directly. Even when you are both happy with the outcome, it is vital that you instruct a solicitor to explain the agreement once agreed. The solicitor can take steps to make the agreement legally binding for you.
You can seek the assistance of a third person to help you communicate and reach an agreement. The mediator is unable to give legal advice, but can help you communicate and reach a fair settlement. Again, once an agreement is reached, a solicitor must be instructed to take steps to make the agreement legally binding for you.
Dealing with matters collaboratively, with solicitors trained in collaborative law. This involves a series of open discussions with everyone present and a commitment not to use the Court process.
Out of Court Agreement
Instructing a solicitor to pursue an out-of-court agreement with the backing of Court proceedings where necessary.
Going to Court
Instructing a solicitor to deal with proceedings at Court, where a Judge will make the final decision.
Each of the options is right for different circumstances – at Harold G Walker we can explain the different approaches in detail for you and apply it to your own personal circumstances. You will then be in a position to make a well-informed decision as to the way forward.
The Dissolution Process
To begin dissolution proceedings, you need to have a civil partnership of more than one year. If both parties agree that the dissolution should proceed undefended, the procedure is relatively straightforward and attendance at Court is not required. If the dissolution is defended (which is rare), a full hearing in Court will be required with both parties in attendance.
Appoint a solicitor to represent you. Discuss the grounds for dissolution with your solicitor and desired arrangements for any children. Your solicitor will then send the Dissolution Petition to Court with a Statement of Arrangements form if children are involved, together with the Civil Partnership Certificate and Court fee. You must state on your Petition that the civil partnership has irretrievably broken down due to one of four grounds:
- Unreasonable behaviour by the other party
- Two years’ separation with the consent of the other party
- Five years’ separation (no requirement for the consent of the other party)
- Desertion by the other party
The Court will register the case and post the papers to your partner or their solicitors with an Acknowledgement of Service form.
Your partner or their solicitors will complete the Acknowledgement of Service form, stating that the Dissolution Petition will not be defended and send it back to the Court.
The Court sends the Acknowledgement of Service form to your solicitors.
Your solicitor drafts a statement in support of the application for the conditional order which you sign. This is then sent to the Court.
The District Judge looks at the papers and decides whether to grant the conditional order and if there are any children involved, whether to issue a statement declaring the Judge is happy with the proposed arrangements for their care.
If the Judge decides to grant the conditional order, both parties are informed that it will be read out in Court on a certain date and time (parties do not need to attend).
A copy of the conditional order is sent to both parties.
Six weeks and one day later, you can apply (with a fee) for the Final Dissolution order.
The Final Dissolution Order is sent to both you and the other party.
Dissolution & Children
Where children are involved, hopefully an agreement can be reached between the parents. The agreement would include, for example, who the children are to live with and what the arrangements are for contact with the other parent.
However, should the parents not agree on these arrangements, or should the Court have concerns about the children’s welfare, then the Court will need to become involved. This may involve one or both parents applying for the children to live with them (Residence) or have contact with them.
Dissolution & Finances
The Dissolution Order officially ends the civil partnership between the parties, but it does not dismiss the potential financial claims that they have against each other or sort out where the parties are going to live. This obviously needs to be dealt with. Decisions will need to be made on property, pension and maintenance issues. This can include whether or not the property will be sold and if not, who is going to live in it and whether or not, maintenance will be paid to the other party and the children.
Both you and your partner must disclose your income and assets to each other. This ensures that everything is taken into account and nothing is concealed. Once agreement is reached regarding the financial division and any future arrangements, the solicitors draft a Consent Order which is signed by both you and your partner and sent to the Court for the District Judge to approve.
If a figure for child maintenance cannot be agreed, then it will be necessary to apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA) for an assessment.