Know the Difference – Legal Ends to Relationships

DivorceThe end of a relationship, whether a marriage or civilpartnership, is not always easy for both parties to accept. However, in the eyes of the law there are very clear rules that determine the legal end to a relationship.

A Portsmouth family solicitors is well-placed to advise clients on what requirements they must meet to declare a legal end to their relationship with their partner. One such family solicitors in Portsmouth is Andrew & Andrew Solicitors.

So what are the 4 different legal ends to a relationship?


Probably the most widely known, divorce is when a court legally declares the marriage between a husband and wife over. Grounds for divorce must be met and include adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion and separation for a stipulated number of years depending on whether both parties agree to the divorce or not. Divorce cannot be applied for until a couple has been married for at least one year.

Civil dissolution

This is the equivalent of divorce but for same-sex couples that have entered into a civil partnership. Similar grounds for dissolution of the partnership must be met.

Judicial separation

This does not end a marriage but instead is the legal recognition that a married couple are no longer cohabitating. This avenue is often pursued when cultural or religious grounds rule out divorce as a viable option. Another example is when one partner has developed an illness, such as dementia, and divorce therefore seems too extreme a course of action. A Portsmouth family solicitors can advise further on when judicial separation is worth pursuing.


This is when the court declares that a marriage was never legal in the first instance or is otherwise voidable. Criteria for nullity include:

  • spouses being closely related
  • one or both parties being aged under 16 when the marriage took place
  • one or both parties already being married to someone else at the time of the marriage
  • the marriage not being consummated
  • one or both parties not fully consenting to the marriage, for example as they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • the female spouse being pregnant by another man at the time of marriage.