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How to Legally End a Civil Partnership

The process of ending a civil partnership is known as dissolution. It is in many ways similar to the process of divorce, but with significant differences.

Grounds for dissolving a civil partnership

A condition for ending a civil partnership is that your relationship has broken down irretrievably.

Similarly to marriage, there are a limited number of grounds upon which you can demonstrate this. The grounds are the same as marriage, except that adultery cannot be used. Therefore the remaining four grounds which can be used are:

  • unreasonable behaviour
  • desertion
  • 2 years of separation
  • 5 years of separation

Unreasonable behaviour

This can be used as grounds for dissolving a civil partnership if your partner’s behaviour leaves you feeling that you can no longer stand to live with them. Examples of unreasonable behaviour are physical and mental cruelty, verbal or physical abuse, drunkenness, sexual infidelity or financial irresponsibility.


Desertion can be used as grounds for ending a civil partnership if your partner has left you for two years out of the last two and a half years with the intention of ending the relationship. They must have done so without your agreement and without good reason.

2 years of separation

If you have lived apart from your civil partner for a period of two years or more, then this can also be used as grounds for dissolving your civil partnership. You will need your partner’s consent to use this as the grounds for your dissolution.

5 years of separation

If you have lived apart from your partner for five years or more, however, you can use this as grounds for dissolving your civil partnership without having to obtain the consent of your partner.

Filing for the dissolution of a civil partnership

To begin the process of dissolving a civil partnership, you must fill out the dissolution petition form. You must enter the full name and address of yourself and your civil partner in the spaces provided.

You should send two copies of the form to the court nearest to you which deals with civil partnership dissolutions. When doing so you should send with it either your original civil partnership certificate or a copy obtained from a register office. It is also a good idea to keep copies of the form for yourself.

A fee of £410 is payable upon filing the dissolution petition.

Applying for a conditional order

The next step in the process is to apply for what is known as a conditional order. This is essentially a document which states that there is no reason why your civil partnership should not be dissolved.

After your partner receives the dissolution petition from the court, they can either accept it or contest it. If they do not accept it then you may have to attend a court hearing so that a judge can grant you a conditional order. Otherwise, it is more straightforward, although you must wait until at least nine days after your civil partner received their copy of the dissolution petition.

To apply for a conditional order, you need to fill out the application for a conditional order form. You must wait at least nine days after your partner receives their copy of the dissolution petition to apply.

If you know that your partner is defending the case, then you should fill in section B and indicate that you want a case management hearing.

Along with the application form, you will need to fill out a statement confirming that what you said in your petition is true – there are four different versions of this form, depending on which of the grounds you based your dissolution on:

Attach your partner’s response to the dissolution petition to these and send it to the court.

Applying for a final order

The final stage of dissolving a civil partnership is the application for a final order, which is a document that officially ends your civil partnership. You must wait until six months have passed since the issuing of the conditional order if you applied for it, or three months and six weeks if your partner did.

To apply for a final order, fill in the application for a conditional order to be made final form. If you filed your petition after July 1 2013, the cost of the final order will be included in the fee for the petition. Otherwise, you will have to pay £45 for the financial order. Send the form back to the court with the fee.

If the court is satisfied that everything has been done properly and that the needs of any children have been taken into account, the final order will be granted, you civil partnership will be ended, and you will be free to enter into another civil partnership if you wish.