Dissolution, Judicial Separation & Annulment Lawyers Berkhamsted, Amersham & Beaconsfield
The process of ending a civil partnership is known as dissolution, rather than divorce as with married couples.
To end or dissolve a civil partnership you need to apply to the court for a civil partnership dissolution order. This process is very similar to married couples applying for divorce but is called civil partnership dissolution.
Your civil partnership must have lasted for at least one year before you can apply to dissolve it. One or both of you must live or usually have a permanent home in England and Wales. You will need to confirm that the relationship has permanently broken down by citing on the application that there has been an ‘irretrievable breakdown of the civil partnership’. It is no longer necessary for either party to be at fault for the application to proceed.
You can make a sole application to the court, or a joint application can be made with your civil partner. There is a strict process to follow which is the same as for divorce. The procedure has a minimum timeframe of 26 weeks (approximately 6 months).
Yes, in the same way that on divorce married couples have financial rights and obligations, those also exist on dissolution of a civil partnership. You can claim financial provision by way of property transfer or sale, lump sum, maintenance and pension sharing order. We can discuss with you the various options as how the financial aspect could be resolved in your case.
A judicial separation is a legal separation allowing couples to live apart formally without bringing their marriage or civil partnership to an end. It endorses the separation and it enables the court to make financial orders similar to those made on divorce or dissolution (with the exception of pension sharing) without terminating the marriage or civil partnership.
Either or both parties to a marriage or civil partnership can apply to the court for an order which provides for the separation of the parties. Although you will not be required to show that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down, you would need to make a statement that you seek to be judicially separated from the other party to the marriage or civil partnership.
To obtain a judicial separation you do not need to cite irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership unlike divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, instead you have to cite that you wish to be judicially separated. Also, there is no requirement to be married or be in a civil partnership for more than one year to be eligible to apply. A legal separation further only requires one order for judicial separation, whereas a divorce or dissolution will require two orders – a conditional order and final order (or the decree nisi and decree absolute under the previous system).
Once a decree of judicial separation has been granted, you will no longer legally be a couple or be required to cohabit, but you will remain married and you will not be permitted to remarry or enter into a new civil partnership. It does however give the court the powers to make the same financial orders as it could on divorce with the exception that it cannot make a pension sharing order.
Judicial separation may be appropriate for instance when one or both parties have religious or moral objections to divorce or dissolution, or where parties want to resolve financial issues on separation but have not been married or in a civil partnership for a year. Conversely, more time may be needed to consider whether divorce or dissolution is the right decision.
Annulment is a different way of ending a marriage or civil partnership on the basis that the marriage or civil partnership is void or voidable. Annulment is sometimes also known as ‘Nullity’.
What are the grounds for annulment?
In order to annul your marriage or civil partnership, you will need to show that the marriage or civil partnership:
- Was never legally valid (‘void’); or
- Was legally valid, but meets one of the reasons that makes it ‘voidable’
The rules for establishing a void or voidable marriage are slightly different from establishing a void or voidable civil partnership. We suggest that you speak to one of our family solicitors to ascertain whether you are able to establish any of the specific reasons.
Unlike divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, you can apply for annulment in the first year of your marriage or at any time after. However, if you apply some years after the wedding or civil partnership the court is likely to ask you to explain the delay.
If you are able to establish the grounds for an annulment, you would need to complete and submit to the court a Form D8N application. The application requires you to provide a statement of case and the application must be correctly completed. The process for nullity itself is not too dissimilar to divorce or dissolution of a civil partenrship.
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