I have a civil partnership, do the new no fault rules apply to me?
Before the changes to the law to bring in no fault take effect from 6 April 2022, it was possible to end a civil partnership by asking the court for a dissolution order. For civil partnerships over one year in length, parties had to prove their relationship had irretrievably breakdown evidenced by one of four facts:
- unreasonable behaviour;
- two years’ separation with consent of the other spouse; or
- five years’ separation without consent.
The new no fault law and what it means for civil partnerships?
The new ‘Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020’ means that couples in a civil partnership can obtain a dissolution without having to establish a fact (as listed above) or getting the other party’s consent. In short, the new no fault rules are the same for ending a marriage through a divorce and ending a civil partnership through a dissolution.
Crucially, all couples need to do is provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown, which can be expressed as a mutual decision with the introduction of joint applications, or by one person on a sole application.
The new rules also mean that one party to the dissolution cannot contest the dissolution, unless the civil partnership is less than one year in length or England and Wales is not the appropriate place for the dissolution to take place. This should eliminate much of the conflict that often arises during this process and will streamline proceedings as well as, hopefully, making them more amicable.
Just as with no fault divorce, there is also a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to when the ‘Conditional Order’ can be made. During this time, the parties still need to make arrangements to divide their finances, agree maintenance payments (if relevant), and agree child arrangements, including the ongoing parenting plan.
What if I have already begun dissolution proceedings?
If you have already started the dissolution proceedings, they will continue to be dealt with by the Court under the current process. There is no need to re-start proceedings or change to the no-fault process once this becomes available in April 2022.
If you have any questions about the new no fault legislation and how it will impact your situation then please contact a member of our specialist family and matrimonial team who will be happy to assist you.