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Civil Partnerships

Civil Partnerships

About pre-civil partnership agreements (PCPA)

A PCPA is an agreement reached between the two people who intend to enter into a civil partnership and who wish to organise their legal position if they subsequently dissolve a civil partnership.

PCPA’s are not legally binding in the UK. However, they can be influential in assessing the division of income and assets on dissolution.

PCPA’s mainly cover the division of property, bank accounts, insurance policies, shares or other assets owned solely or jointly by the parties. The PCPA can also provide for the payment of maintenance by one party to the other, it can fix the level of maintenance and the length of time which maintenance is paid. It can determine not only ownership of property but also occupation of a home and its duration.

Creating a pre-civil partnership agreement

It is crucial to the PCPA that both parties are independently represented by separate solicitors. It is also important that neither party is put under any unreasonable pressure to agree to the terms of the PCPA. Additionally there should be a complete disclosure to each of the parties’ financial circumstances.

If these elements are not present in the PCPA then it will have no binding effect and will not even be treated as an “agreement”.

Your first step during relationship breakdown

Many people we speak to have not yet firmly made a decision to dissolve their civil partnership. During our discussions, we will talk about your options, so that you can make an informed decision about what is best for you.

Occasionally meeting with a counsellor, from an organisation like Relate, can present a host of options before dissolution becomes the only choice.

Informal separation

An informal separation is living separately, either in separate properties or separately in the same house.

An informal separation does not usually involve Court proceedings, although we can help you to make the most comfortable arrangements in respect of your children, money and property if you do consider this option. In many cases, this kind of informal arrangement does not require any involvement from the Courts and we simply provide you with clear options and suggestions.

As informal as the separation is, an agreement should be formally drawn up in a legally constructed document called a “separation deed” or you may hear it called a “separation agreement”, which we will negotiate and draw up.

In the event that a separation becomes permanent and you or your partner decide to commence formal proceedings through the Court for dissolution, then it is essential that any separation deed/agreement is brought to your advisor’s attention. This is so the agreement can be incorporated into a Court Order.

Please be aware however that the agreement will be looked at, at the time of dissolution of the Civil Partnership and will only be confirmed if its terms remain fair and reasonable.

A separation deed/agreement cannot be finalised without the express cooperation and agreement of both parties. If agreement cannot be achieved then you may need to seek dissolution of the Civil Partnership, as a Court application may be required in order to settle the matter.


As with a divorce, there is only one ground for dissolving a civil partnership: You or your civil partner must believe that your civil partnership has “irretrievably broken down”. If this is not the case then we can help you consider the alternatives to dissolution, as above. Dissolution does involve a Court process. At the end of the process you will receive the Final Dissolution Order which confirms the end of your civil partnership. This document should be kept in a safe place as if you wish to marry or enter into a new civil partnership in the future you will require the document as proof of your dissolution.

There are four ways in commencing dissolution proceedings:

  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • Desertion for 2 years
  • 2 years separation with the consent of both parties
  • 5 years separation not needing the other party’s consent

There is no ground for adultery on the dissolution of a civil partnership. One year must have elapsed from the date of formation of the civil partnership before any application can be made for dissolution.

We will advise you on the most appropriate way to approach dissolution depending on your circumstances, to commence the proceedings. We will prepare the necessary paperwork and guide you through the Court process, supporting you and ensuring everything is completely clear, throughout.

It takes about four to six months to obtain a Final Dissolution Order. This is an estimate and much will depend on your circumstances and the Court in which you start the dissolution proceedings.

It is always advisable to finalise arrangements for your children, money and property at the same time as going through the dissolution process. The dissolution process itself does not deal with these issues which must be concluded separately.

Howe & Spender Solicitors is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, No.00173958