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.