The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 was signed into law by President McAleese on 19th July 2010. The then Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermott Ahern, signed the commencement order for the Act on 23 December 2010. The law came into force on 1 January 2011.
The Act provides for significant and extensive reform in Irish Family Law including provision for a Civil Partnership Registration Scheme. It further provides for a Cohabitants Redress Scheme which will provide for financially dependant long-term cohabitants in circumstances where the relationship breaks down.
The ancillary provisions of the Act relating to Civil Partnership are designed to give similar rights to same-sex couples as are enjoyed by married couples in areas relating to maintenance, succession, the shared home and dissolution of the partnership. These provisions are similar, and in many cases identical to, the legislation which provides similar rights to married couples.
The Act provides for the following rights for Civil Partners:
- Property Rights
- The “shared home” is treated in a similar way to the “Family Home” under the Family Acts.
- Maintenance Rights
- Dependent Civil Partners may apply for maintenance from the other Civil Partner under the Act.
- Succession Rights
- Dependent Civil Partners may apply for Succession rights upon the death of the other Civil Partner.
- Pension Rights
- The Act provides for pension rights both on dissolution of a Civil Partnership and upon the death of Civil Partners.
- Domestic Violence
- Civil Partners are entitled to apply under the Domestic Violence legislation for a barring order or safety order.
The Act provides for the dissolution or the annulment of a Civil Partnership in certain circumstances. It also provides for the recognition of Foreign Civil Partnership if they are similar in effect to Civil Partnerships provided for under the Act.
The Act provides that rights accrue for parties residing together for 2 years if they have children or for 5 years if they don’t have children.
Under the provisions of the Act couples who are co-habiting may come to an agreement opting out of their rights under the legislation or providing for the financial provision to be made if their relationship breaks down.
Co-habitant’s may apply to the Court for property adjustment orders, maintenance orders, succession rights and pension rights under the legislation.