Once you have registered a civil partnership or entered into a same sex marriage, it can only be ended if one of you dies, or by applying to court to bring the partnership legally to an end.
The legal requirements for the dissolution of a civil partnership or a same sex divorce are broadly the same as for opposite sex divorce, and are as follows:
The one year rule
You cannot apply to bring a civil partnership legally to an end until it has lasted for at least one year. This rule cannot be waived in any circumstances.
However, it is possible for those who have been married for less than one year to apply for a decree of judicial separation, or a decree of nullity. The court can make financial orders once a judicial separation or decree of nullity has been granted.
It is also possible to apply for maintenance or a lump sum payment while still married or in a registered civil partnership.
There are also a range of protections available for those at risk of violence from their partners.
Jurisdiction of the court
Whether or not the court has jurisdiction is a complex area of law, but essentially if at least one of the spouses or parties to a civil partnership is habitually resident in England and Wales, it is likely that the court will be able to consider an application for divorce or dissolution.
The grounds for divorce
There is only one ground for divorce in England and Wales: irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
The court cannot rule that the marriage has broken down irretrievably unless the petitioner establishes one of the following five facts:
• Adultery (this specifically refers to ‘sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex outside marriage’)
• Unreasonable behaviour
• Two years’ separation (with the consent of the respondent)
• Five years’ separation (no consent required)
The grounds for dissolution of a civil partnership are the same as for divorce, except that you cannot rely on your partner’s adultery to prove that your relationship has irretrievably broken down. However, you can use adultery as an example of your partner’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’.