We help guide you through the legal process of entering or ending a civil partnership
Open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, civil partnerships offer the same legal rights as marriage in terms of tax benefits, pensions and inheritance.
At Susan Howarth & Co, our civil partnership solicitors can provide clear and practical advice to help protect your future before you enter a civil partnership.
If your relationship has sadly broken down, just like a divorce, the end of a civil partnership can be upsetting and complicated. Having the right team by your side can help, sensitively and reassuringly guiding you through the process of legal dissolution, which can include financial provision, property transfer, pension sharing orders and child arrangements (where applicable).
Our highly experienced team can advise clients across all aspects of civil partnerships in England and Wales, including:
- Pre-civil partnership agreements
- Post-civil partnership agreements
- Civil partnership dissolution
For more information, please download our Civil Partnership Fact Sheet.
Contact our civil partnership solicitors in Northwich, Cheshire
Frequently asked questions about civil partnerships
What is a civil partnership?
A civil partnership is a legal relationship entered into by a couple which provides them with similar legal rights to married couples. In England and Wales, civil partnerships are available to both same same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
Once a civil partnership has been registered, it can only be ended by making an application to the court or if one partner dies. Ending a civil partnership is only possible if it has lasted for at least a year.
For more information, please download our Civil Partnership Fact Sheet.
What is the difference between marriage and civil partnership?
The difference between civil partnership and marriage is in how the unions are formed. A civil partnership is entered into by signing a civil partnership document while a marriage is formed by making vows. Both offer the same legal rights.
Can you convert a civil partnership to marriage?
Same-sex couples in a civil partnership can convert their civil partnership into a marriage. This is done through completing a ‘conversion into marriage’ declaration with the local register office. There is the option to have a celebratory ceremony if desired.
Opposite-sex couples in a civil partnership do not currently have the option to convert their civil partnership to a marriage.
What are pre-civil partnership agreements?
People entering a civil partnership can create a pre-civil partnership agreement to determine how their finances would be divided if they were ever to separate. This is similar to a prenuptial agreement for couples getting married and is sometimes also called a ‘pre-registration agreement’.
Our civil partnership solicitors can assist with negotiating the terms of your pre-civil partnership agreement, as well as drafting the agreements and advising on the terms of any agreement your partner has asked you to sign.
What are post-civil partnership agreements?
People already in a civil partnership can get the same protection a pre-civil partnership agreement offers by making a post-civil partnership agreement. This is equivalent to a postnuptial agreement for married couples and is sometimes called a post-registration agreement.
We can help couples negotiate the terms of post-civil partnership agreements, draft the agreements and advise if you have been asked to sign a post-civil partnership agreement.
What do I do if I want to dissolve my civil partnership?
If you want to end a civil partnership, it is vital to get expert legal advice. Not only can this help with the dissolution process, but it can also ensure you understand the implications for your finances and children.
Our civil partnership dissolution solicitors can help with all of these issues, including ensuring you achieve a fair division of finances that meets your needs and that the interests of any children are protected.
What steps need to be taken to dissolve a civil partnership?
There are several steps you must go through in order to dissolve a civil partnership:
- Apply for a civil partnership dissolution – You can do this online or on paper if you prefer. You can either apply by yourself (‘sole application’) or with your partner (‘joint application’).
- The court issues your application – This formally starts the dissolution process.
- Apply for the Conditional Order – 20 weeks after the court issues your application, you can apply for the Conditional Order. This interim court order confirms the court sees no reason the dissolution cannot go ahead.
- Apply for the Final Order – 6 weeks after the Conditional Order is granted, you can apply for the Final Order. This court order legally ends your civil partnership.
If you make a sole application, there is an additional step before you can apply for the Conditional Order. The court will issue a copy of the application to your civil partner, who must complete an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ form to confirm they know the application. Once this form has been received, the dissolution process can go ahead.
How long does it take to end a civil partnership?
It takes a minimum of 26 weeks to dissolve a civil partnership, as set by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 terms.
This timescale is due to the two mandated wait periods in the process of 20 weeks before applying for the Conditional Order and a further 6 weeks before applying for the Final Order. How long your dissolution actually takes will depend on how proactive you are in making the necessary applications and how quickly your partner responds to the application (if you are making a sole application).
The time it takes to get the division of finances and child arrangements sorted out is entirely separate and can take less time or longer, depending on the circumstances. Generally, it will be much quicker to handle these matters voluntarily through negotiation or mediation than if court proceedings are needed.
Can a heterosexual couple have a civil partnership?
Originally, only same-sex couples could apply for civil partnership; however, since December 2019, opposite-sex couples can also have a civil partnership if they prefer this to getting married.
Why Choose Susan Howarth & Co for civil partnership legal advice?
We believe everyone has the right to access justice and expert legal advice. This can make navigating even the most complicated family law situations much simpler and less stressful. We are very proud of our family law department and the fantastic reputation our high-calibre solicitors have built in the community.
At Susan Howarth & Co, we approach every case with professionalism and commitment. No client’s needs are the same, which is why we always take the time to listen to you and understand your individual requirements.
Our expertise is independently recognised, including:
- Ranked as a Band 2 legal practice in the Chambers & Partners UK legal guide
- Directors Susan Howarth and Victoria Poole are both also ranked as ‘Notable Practitioners’ by Chambers & Partners UK
- Ranked as a Band 3 Leading Family Law Firm in The Legal 500 directory
- Susan Howarth has been ranked as a ‘Leading Individual’ for 4 consecutive years by the Legal 500 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2023 as one of seven individuals for Family Law (North West)
- Accreditation by the Law Society for Family Law and Children Law
- Many of our team are members of Resolution, the leading professional network for family lawyers
- Year on year we gain Lexcel accreditation for excellence in practice management
- We are winners of the Best Family and Childcare Law Firm (North West) in 2023 and 2022 in the AI Legal Awards
- We have been finalists of the Lexis Nexis Family Law Firm of the Year (North) for 2 consecutive years
A key benefit we can offer is our in-house family mediation service. We have a specialist Resolution-trained Family Mediator who is also a Resolution-accredited Specialist in Domestic Violence and Children Law (private) and an FMC-accredited Family Mediator (all issues).