LGBTQ+ Divorce and Civil Partnership Dissolution

Our expert Family Divorce Lawyers have extensive experience of helping same-sex couples through the ordeal of a relationship breakdown.

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Caroline Keeley
Partner and Head of Family Law

Are the processes for ending a civil partnership or a marriage for a same-sex couple any different than those for a couple of the opposite sex?

If the relationship breaks down, a civil partnership can be dissolved or a marriage can be ended through divorce. These processes are very similar to each other, although some of the terminology is slightly different. If you dissolve a civil partnership, you receive a conditional order and then a final order of dissolution. In a divorce, the first order is decree nisi and the second is decree absolute.

The only real difference between the processes available for same-sex couples and for couples of the opposite sex relates to the facts relied on for a divorce or dissolution. The person who starts divorce or dissolution proceedings has to state that the relationship has broken down irretrievably and they have to base this upon one of four facts:

  • Unreasonable behaviour of the other person;
  • Desertion;
  • Separation for a period of two years with the agreement of both parties; or
  • Separation after five years without any need for the other person’s agreement.

However, for opposite couples there is another fact available – adultery. Unfortunately, same-sex couples cannot rely on adultery for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. However, infidelity can be referred to as unreasonable behaviour.

What will be taken into consideration when sharing out any assets?

The principles taken into account when sharing assets are the same as for couples of the opposite sex. There are various factors to take into account. The primary consideration has to be the welfare of any children of the family under the age of 18. A court will then consider the length of the civil partnership or marriage; ages of the couple; their incomes or future earning capacities; housing needs; particular capital contributions and any other significant circumstances.

A couple would need to give each other full information about their finances to enable their solicitors to advise them and negotiate towards a settlement that would be approved by a court.

We would recommend using approaches such as a collaborative process or mediation wherever possible.

How can we decide arrangements for our children?

Our pages on child arrangements provide detailed information. There is no presumption in favour of a biological parent when deciding a dispute between same-sex parents.

How we can help you

Whether advising on a LGBT+ divorce, separation or the dissolution of a civil partnership, our team of family law solicitors specialising in LGBT+ issues will provide sympathetic, clear and objective advice.

Our approach is flexible and entirely tailored to you and your priorities. From the first meeting, our family law solicitors will spend time understanding your goals, so that we can achieve the best outcome for you and your family. We will listen to you, discuss the options open to you and work alongside you at your own pace.

To speak to a member of our Family Law team, please call us on 0330 555 0440 or email us at

Related services

Adoption for Same-Sex Couples

If you are LGBTQ+, be it single or in a relationship, and want to adopt a child, speak to our specialist LGBTQ+ adoption solicitors, who can guide you through the process.

Civil Partnerships

At TWM Solicitors our civil partnership solicitors are on hand to advise you on any issues that may arise with regard to a civil partnership.

Equal Marriage

The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 was passed on 17 July 2013, with same sex couples having marriages from 29 March 2014.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBTQ+) Legal Advice

At TWM, our dedicated team of Family Law Solicitors provide specialist legal advice to LGBTQ+ people in the areas of same sex marriage, family relationships, children and adoption.

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