Q: I have been in a civil partnership since 2006 but have just found out my partner has been cheating on me, something I have suspected for a while. Is this a legal ground for ending the partnership? And will I be entitled to half of everything we own?
A: Whilst couples in a civil partnership have many of the same legal rights and benefits as married couples, when it comes to the dissolution of a partnership adultery is not a permissible ground. It is however possible to use infidelity that has led to the breakdown of the partnership as a ground for unreasonable behaviour.
An application for a Dissolution Order of a Civil Partnership cannot be made until one year has passed from the date of registration. Then, using one of four specific grounds you must prove that the partnership has irretrievably broken down. These grounds are: unreasonable behaviour; having lived apart for two years if both parties consent to the dissolution; having lived apart for five years; two years desertion by one party.
In just the same way as divorce, a Dissolution Order includes provision for financial relief, taking into consideration money, property and pensions. As with divorce, all assets held solely or jointly will go into the pot to be divided, with a starting point of a 50/50 split. Both parties will then be required to make a ‘full and frank’ disclosure of the financial situation in order that negotiations can begin. Using solicitors to carry out these negotiations will ensure that everything has been fully taken into account and all assets (and debts) are considered. Your solicitor will also draw up a formal written document for you which is essential to have as a record of what has been agreed.
Further information relating to this question is available from Nathan Wright, a Partner with GHP Legal. For an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Oswestry 01691 659194, Chirk 01691 777949, Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313. We offer free legal diagnostic clinics (no appointment necessary). In Oswestry, Wednesdays 12noon-3pm for Personal Injury, Employment & Family matters. In Wrexham, Mondays 9.30am-12noon for Employment matters, 12noon – 3pm for Personal Injury & Family matters. GHP Legal is authorised and regulated by the SRA 51566, and Lexcel Accredited.