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Unfortunately, relationships don’t always work out and dissolving your civil partnership can be the best choice for you and your family. In the UK, couples can end their civil partnership by asking the court for a dissolution order, but only if their civil partnership lasted for at least one year.

A dissolution order is a court order that dissolves civil partnerships. It can be quite an easy process, and you can usually avoid going to court hearings if both you and your partner are in mutual agreement. However, dissolving a civil partnership can be difficult if there are disagreements on how to handle finances, childcare and other matters.

When you apply to end your civil partnership, you need to prove that your relationship has broken down permanently. Just like with the divorce process, you can prove this with one of the following reasons – also known as grounds for ending a civil partnership:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • You have been separated and have lived apart for at least two years
  • You have been separated for at least five years – you can apply to end your civil partnership if you have been separated for at least five years, even if your partner disagrees.

The process of dissolving a civil partnership (if your partner agrees):

If both parties agree and the dissolution petition is issued by the court, then a copy will be sent to your ex-partner, including an acknowledgement of service form. If your ex-partner agrees, they will complete the form and return it to the court.

The court will review it and make a conditional order. A conditional order is like the decree nisi which is used in divorces, and it’s basically a confirmation that all legal requirements needed to dissolve your civil partnership have been met.

When applying for the conditional order, a statement in support of the dissolution must be sent as well to confirm that the dissolution is still accurate.  Once the application is made, the court will send a certificate to confirm the date that the conditional order will be approved.

Then, you wait for 6 weeks and one day to apply for the final order. A final order is like the decree absolute which is used in divorces, and it’s the final document that dissolves your civil partnership.

Separating without a dissolution:

If you want to separate without a dissolution, then you can apply for a legal separation. This is a good alternative for couples that haven’t been in a civil partnership for one year and can’t apply for a dissolution.

Some couples also prefer to wait until they have been separated for two years to apply for the dissolution order, then that is their ground for ending their civil partnership instead of selecting an inaccurate ground.

Please be aware that a separation isn’t a binding agreement, so if you want to work out your finances you will either need a separation agreement or you will need to wait until the dissolution order is made.


The process of dissolving a civil partnership differs depending on your situation and many times there can be financial, property or complex childcare matters that will need more time and professional help to be resolved. Please get in touch with our family lawyers and they will be happy to help you through the process step by step.