You can apply to end (‘dissolve’) your civil partnership if you have been in the partnership for at least a year.

There are 3 main steps to ending a civil partnership:

  1. File a dissolution petition – you have to apply to court for permission to end your civil partnership, and show reasons why you want to split up.
  2. Apply for a conditional order – if your civil partner agrees to the petition, you’ll get a document saying there’s no reason you can’t divorce.
  3. Apply for a final order – this legally ends your civil partnership – you need to wait 6 weeks after you get the conditional order before you can apply.

Grounds for ending a civil partnership

You have to show the relationship has irretrievably broken down, and that you have good reasons for ending the civil partnership.

Unlike a divorce, there are only 2 grounds for ending a civil partnership:

  • Unreasonable behaviour – the basis being that your partner has behaved so badly that you can no longer bear to live with them.
  • Desertion – i.e. your partner has left you without your agreement and/or without a good reason to end your relationship for more than 2 years in the past 2 ½ years.

You can still claim desertion if you have lived together for up to a total of 6 months within this period.

  • You have lived apart for more than 2 years – you can get a dissolution if you have lived apart for more than 2 years, and both agree to end the civil partnership. Your civil partner must agree in writing to end the civil partnership.
  • You have lived apart for more than 5 years – Living apart for more than 5 years is usually enough to end a civil partnership, even if your civil partner disagrees.