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Legalities of Ending a Marriage or Civil Partnership

In an ideal world, every couple that enters into a marriage or civil partnership will stay together happily ever after.

Unfortunately, this is not the case, and it would be unrealistic to think otherwise. This section covers divorce and family breakups, and contains information on how to legally end a marriage or civil partnership when a relationship breaks down, as well as how to properly cut ties if you are exiting a relationship with a cohabiting partner.

Ending a marriage

In order to officially end a marriage you will need to apply for a divorce and undergo a process which will end in the receipt of a document called a decree absolute. Our guidance will take you through the various steps needed to get a divorce as well as the different grounds on which it can be proved that your relationship has broken down irretrievably – a necessary condition for divorce.

Our information also covers the financial settlement which accompanies any divorce, and the different ways in which it can be decided how the matrimonial assets should be divided, i.e. amicable agreements and court orders.

The section also introduces mediation, which is a useful process that can be used when a couple is in disagreement over divorce proceedings.

Ending a civil partnership

A civil partnership is ended (or dissolved) with the issuing of a final order by the court. As with marriage, it must be demonstrated that the relationship has broken down irretrievably. Our section about how to end a civil partnership contains all the details you need to know about this process.

Splitting up after cohabiting

Although a cohabiting couple does not need to get a divorce or dissolution, the division of assets still needs to be agreed upon when a cohabiting couple separates. This could be governed by a cohabitation agreement or signed prior to the break-up. Our information on ending a relationship when you are living together also provides guidance on this scenario.

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