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For same sex couples wanting to make a lifelong commitment to each other, a civil partnership is a legal relationship which provides a secure framework for gay and lesbian couples and their families. As from the 29th March 2014, same sex couples now also have the right to marry
What is involved?
In order to register a civil partnership, the couple must be the same sex, must be over the age of 16 and cannot be close relatives. If either party has been married or in a previous civil partnership, that relationship must be dissolved first.
Registered civil partners are treated much the same way as married couples for tax purposes, state benefits, pensions, inheritances and arrangements for children on separation.
A civil partnership can have significant legal and financial consequences and it is important to seek advice before registering your partnership to understand your rights and responsibilities.
In the same way that people marrying will consider a pre-nuptial agreement same sex couples entering into a civil partnership may wish to consider a pre-partnership agreement to clarify what should happen regarding their finances in the event of a separation. Pre-partnership agreements are likely to be treated by the court the same way as pre-nuptial agreements which are not directly legally binding as an enforceable contract, but their existence may be taken into account as a relevant factor when assets are distributed. This is an area of law which is being continually developed.
The non-birth parent of a child has the right to apply for parental responsibility. If a child is conceived as a result of recognised fertility treatment then both parents will automatically have parental responsibility when a child is born. Although it has been possible for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children jointly for some years now, the couple’s suitability will be assessed and the civil partnership may demonstrate the couple’s commitment to each other. Please see our Adoption, Surrogacy and Fertility pages.
In the event of a breakdown in the relationship, arrangements for children may need to be worked out. The law relating to children is predominantly based on the welfare of the child rather than on the parent’s sexual orientation. Please see our arrangements for children on separation page for more information.
If you have reached the conclusion that your relationship has broken down we can apply for the dissolution of your civil partnership, the equivalent of divorce. This process cannot begin until after the first year of the civil partnership.
The basis for dissolution is identical to divorce. If the partnership has broken down irretrievably, then the dissolution may be based on unreasonable behaviour, desertion for at least two years, separation for two years with your partner’s consent or separation for five years. There is no adultery ground available but infidelity will be covered by unreasonable behaviour.
Whilst dissolution will often be the most obvious and costs effective solution if you want to bring an end to the relationship, there are alternatives, including a separation order, having the partnership annulled and entering into separation agreements.
When applying for dissolution of the partnership it may be possible to seek financial orders dealing with income, capital and pensions. Please see our financial arrangements on divorce/civil partnership dissolution page for a more detailed guide to the process.
Why we are different
We charge a fixed price of £750 plus VAT for an undefended dissolution, giving you the reassurance of knowing that you will keep control of your legal costs whilst your case is taken care of from start to finish by our family law specialists.
If you are the person commencing the process, it is not uncommon to encounter some resistance to dissolution at the outset, after all parties to a relationship will come to accept its’ breakdown at different times. A fully defended dissolution is very unusual. For our fixed price dissolution, your case will be treated as “undefended” if your partner responds to the application by completing an acknowledgement form after receiving the application by post confirming his or her agreement to the dissolution of the civil partnership. In any other situation, we will provide clear costs estimates based on the likely timescales and work involved.
Unless you qualify for an exemption there will be a fee of £550 payable to the court when your papers are filed. In more complex cases there may be additional court fees or disbursements payable. We will advise you whether it is appropriate to seek a full or partial contribution to these costs from your former partner.
We have drawn on our many years of experience dealing with family matters to put together a useful guide 15 Tips To Help Avoid A Messy Separation or Divorce a practical and jargon free guide to help make the transition as painless as possible, which can be downloaded free of charge.
Your Next Step
For more information, call us today on 0208 882 9850