Dissolution decree to end a civil partnership

What is a decree of dissolution?

A decree of dissolution formally ends a civil partnership. If a court is satisfied that the required conditions (see 'Rules' below) are met, the court will grant the decree of dissolution, dissolving the civil partnership. When it grants the decree of dissolution, the court may also make orders in relation to the payment of maintenance and lump sums, the transfer of property, the extinguishment of succession rights, pension rights etc.

Both of you must be living separate lives (see 'Living apart' below) for 2 years before an application for a dissolution can be made. You may decide to enter into a separation agreement to regulate matters between you before you seek a dissolution.

In any application for a decree of dissolution, the court can review any previous arrangements made by you both such as a separation agreement, particularly if the circumstances of either of you have changed.

When a decree of dissolution is granted, it cannot be reversed.

Either of you can apply to court to have any orders made under the decree - such as a maintenance order - reviewed by the court.

Marriage Act 2015

Following the commencement of the Marriage Act 2015 on 16 November 2015, you can no longer register a civil partnership in Ireland. Civil partnerships registered abroad since 16 May 2016 are not recognised in Ireland.

Couples already in a civil partnership can apply to marry or remain as they are. If you decide to marry, your civil partnership is automatically dissolved.

Conditions necessary for getting a dissolution

Before a court can grant a dissolution, the following conditions must be met:

  • You must have been living apart from one another for a period amounting to 2 out of the previous 3 years before the application is made
  • Proper arrangements must have been made or will be made for each other and any dependent child or children

Living apart

The Family Law Act 2019 (pdf) provides a definition of ‘living apart’ to give certainty to the interpretation of the term in the Irish courts. It clarifies that civil partners who live in the same home as one another are considered to be living apart if the civil partners are not living together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship. The Act also sets out that a relationship does not cease to be an intimate relationship merely because the relationship is no longer sexual in nature.

If these conditions are met, either of you may apply to court for a decree of dissolution.

How to apply for a dissolution

You are not legally required to use a solicitor or a barrister. If you wish, you can choose to represent yourself. However, there may be complex issues which may make it very difficult to apply for a dissolution without some professional help.

When applying for a dissolution in the Circuit Court, you will be required to submit 3 documents initially:

  • An application form (known as a civil partnership civil bill). This document describes both you and your civil partner, your occupations and where you live. It also sets out when you registered your civil partnership, for how long you have been living apart and the names and birth dates of your children.
  • A sworn statement of means (Form 51). This document sets out your assets, your income, your debts, your liabilities and your outgoings.
  • A sworn statement relating to the welfare of any dependent children (Form 37B). This document sets out the personal details of the children. It describes where they live and with whom. It also describes their education and training, their health, childcare arrangements and maintenance and access arrangements.

There is no requirement to submit a document certifying that you have been advised of the alternatives to dissolution, unlike in divorce applications.

When all of the necessary documents have been filed, you will be given a date for the court hearing. The hearing will be held in private and you will need to show the court that you meet the requirements of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. If the court is satisfied that you have grounds for a dissolution, it will grant a decree of dissolution.

Legal advice

Legal advice and representation is always advisable. If you and your civil partner disagree about any issue at all it is strongly advised that you talk to a family law solicitor. You and your partner should not use the same solicitor.

To enquire whether you are eligible for Legal Aid, you can contact your nearest law centre. Legal Aid is not free and everyone must pay a contribution towards costs.

FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent, voluntary organisation. A limited number of FLAC phone clinic appointments are offered in conjunction with Citizen Information Services around the country. These appointments are with a volunteer lawyer and are confidential and free of charge. Contact your nearest Citizens Information Centre for information on FLAC phone clinic appointments in your area. FLAC’s Information and Referral Line for basic legal information is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am-1pm.

If you choose to hire a private solicitor, you should be aware that there is no fixed rate of charges for legal fees. You are advised to obtain some quotes before deciding on a legal firm. You can find contact details for solicitors and firms throughout Ireland on lawsociety.ie.

Further information

The Legal Aid Board

Quay Street
V23 RD36

Tel: 066 947 1000
Locall: 0818 615 200

Free Legal Advice Centre

85/86 Upper Dorset Street
Dublin 1
D01 P9Y3

Opening Hours: Lines open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 1pm
Tel: +353 (0)1 906 1010
Page edited: 11 April 2024