Same-Sex Divorce & Civil Partnership Dissolution
Divorce can be one of the most trying times in an individual’s life. As well as dealing with the breakdown of a relationship, consideration must also be given to the children of the family and the division of any assets.
A divorce does not always have to be contested or stressful, particularly if early legal advice is sought. Timely expert advice is therefore highly recommended to help you deal with the breakdown of the marriage in a pragmatic and cost-efficient way.
Prior to commencing divorce proceedings, you must have been married for at least a year although there may, in certain circumstances, be a legitimate right to seek an annulment of the marriage before then. Similarly, you can only commence dissolution proceedings if you have been in a civil partnership for at least a year and must be able to demonstrate to the Court that your union has irretrievably come to an end. If the basis for the dissolution is agreed, you can apply to the Court for a conditional order and, six weeks thereafter, apply for a final order bringing the partnership to an end.
Unlike divorce in opposite-sex marriages, adultery is not a fact that can be relied on as a stand-alone factor in same-sex divorce or civil partnership dissolution proceedings. However, if there is evidence of adultery, this can be used to support an unreasonable behaviour petition instead.
In England and Wales, there is only one ground for same-sex divorce and/or the dissolution of a civil partnership, that being the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage/partnership. In order to prove this, a divorce or dissolution petition is based on one of four facts:
- unreasonable behaviour;
- desertion (for a period of 2 years);
- 2 years' separation with the other party’s consent; or
- 5 years' separation without consent.
Typically, an uncontested divorce or dissolution will take between 4-6 months to complete, however, this timeframe can vary depending on the circumstances of each individual case. For example, if your spouse/civil partner contests the proceedings or simply fails to respond, the process will inevitably take longer.