Civil partnerships were introduced in 2005 by the Civil Partnership Act 2004. Same-sex marriage was introduced on 29 March 2014 in the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013. This gives same-sex couples two options; marriage and civil partnership, but only allows heterosexual couples one option; marriage.

Same-sex couples entering into a civil partnership are afforded exactly the same rights as they would have had they chosen to be married instead. The rules for entering into a civil partnership mirror those for marriage. To bring a Civil Partnership to an end it is necessary to apply to the Court for a dissolution.

For both Same Sex Marriages and Civil Partnerships, it is necessary to prove that the partnership has broken down irretrievably and the partner who is starting the divorce or dissolution must prove the irretrievable breakdown by relying on one of the following:

  • Unreasonable behaviour;
  • Desertion for a period of two years or more;
  • That you have lived separately for a period of two years or more (and your partner consents);
  • That you have lived separately for a period of five years or more.

Adultery cannot be used as a reason to dissolve a same sex marriage or civil partnership. In a heterosexual marriage, if one party is unfaithful this is grounds for divorce.

The process after issuing the Divorce or Dissolution is the same as heterosexual divorces, see our Divorce Procedure Flowchart.

Communication and seeking specialist advice is key in ensuring that the divorce or dissolution proceeds smoothly. The court has the same powers as it does upon divorce in relation to the finances and any children.