No matter the circumstances, the decision to end a civil partnership is never easy. Being prepared and following expert legal advice is the best way to keep stress and confusion down to a minimum.
Of course, it’s difficult to know what to expect from each stage of the dissolution process and how everything will pan out. Tensions often run high, emotions can get the better of us and legal conditions are usually the last thing on a person’s mind.
Yet a thorough understanding of legal criteria and procedures can be a big help in regaining peace of mind and planning for the future.
Preparing for a civil partnership dissolution.
These essential tips from divorce and dissolution law expert Myerson offer valuable insight for anybody looking to get to grips with the civil partnership dissolution process – let’s take a look.
Understand the legal grounds for dissolution
More often than not, people tend to start researching what the law says only when they feel sure that dissolution is the only appropriate course left. Even so, being aware of the criteria and grounds for dissolution is the first step towards ensuring a swift resolution.
Firstly, it’s important to be aware that a civil partnership must have lasted for at least one year before you can apply to a court for a dissolution order. The applicant must then be able to prove that the partnership has ‘irretrievably broken down’, based on at least one of the following conditions:
- Unreasonable partner behavior or adultery, causing significant psychological stress and an adverse living environment for the applicant.
- Both parties have been living separately for at least two years, and both are seeking a dissolution.
- Both parties have been living separately for at least five years, and only one is seeking a dissolution.
- The partner has deserted the applicant at least two years prior to the start of dissolution proceedings.
Discuss key arrangements early
It might seem obvious where each person will live and following the dissolution, yet this isn’t always the case. Either way, we tend to break down the dissolution process into three main sections: qualifying the application, making financial and living arrangements and deciding on childcare if applicable.
Once you have decided that a dissolution is a viable option, it’s a good idea to start planning out living arrangements as soon as possible. The best course of action will ultimately depend on the ownership or tenancy of the current property, and whether that is more in favor of one partner than the other. A couple may decide to propose a short-term and long-term plan to make the transition as smooth as possible.
As for finances, it’s a good idea to make a comprehensive list of any property, savings, pensions, debts and other assets that are owned both jointly and individually. This will help to divide property fairly and avoid any potential conflicts arising further down the line.
Seek a mutual agreement on childcare
If the couple in question have adopted a child, each partner’s legal status as a parent will remain the same following the dissolution of their civil partnership. Both parties will have the same responsibility for the welfare of their child as they did before. It is always best to arrange childcare arrangements ahead of time and outside of court; though this isn’t always possible.
In the event that both partners cannot reach an amicable agreement regarding childcare, either can apply for a court order to resolve the situation. This may cover terms of custody and residence of the child, rights to contact and visitation, as well as any prohibitive steps deemed necessary to protect the child’s welfare or rights of either parent. Be aware that child custody cases can often prove to be very costly and emotionally draining for those involved.
Have a clear timeframe in mind
On average, the dissolution process can take roughly four to six months from start to finish; however, that can be extended in the event of a dispute, financial issues or failure to respond to dissolution papers.
Whichever way you look at it, remember that civil partnership dissolutions don’t just happen overnight. The length of proceedings may have a sizeable impact on your living and financial situation, so it’s best to lay out as realistic a timeframe as possible before setting the wheels in motion.
Exhaust every other alternative
A civil partnership dissolution must always be seen as a last resort, not a first option. The criteria for a relationship to have ‘irretrievably broken down’ beyond repair should not be taken lightly. And unless there are sufficient grounds for filing a dissolution order, it’s likely that a couple will have to seek an alternative solution. If your partnership is less than one year old, for instance, you may wish to explore other options such as a separation order or annulment.
If you decide that dissolution is the best course of action then it’s best to resolve any disputes outside of court wherever possible. Mediation services are widely available for couples that are looking to resolve any ongoing disputes and reach key decisions on finances, property, and childcare. These services often prove the difference between a swift and fair resolution and a long, drawn-out saga that can have a serious impact on personal finances and psychological wellbeing.
Myerson Solicitors has been supporting the family law needs of individuals and communities around the North of England for decades. The firm specializes in divorce law, civil partnership dissolutions and separation agreements. For more information visit www.myerson.co.uk