The Civil Partnership & Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act, 2010 has recently come into force. The Act creates certain very significant rights and obligations in respect of persons cohabiting together who are unmarried or who have not been registered as civil partners and applies to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

Co-Habiting Couples

The Act confers rights on “Qualified Cohabitants”, defined in the Act as:-

(a) An adult who was in a relationship of cohabitation with another adult and was living with the other adult as a couple for a period of 2 years or more, in the case where they are the parents of one or more dependent children, or

(b) An adult who was in a relationship of cohabitation with another adult and was living with the other adult as a couple for a period of 5 years or more, in any other case.

Redress Measures under the Act

The Act allows a Qualified Cohabitant to apply under the Act for various re-dress measures at the end of a long-term cohabiting relationship, either if the relationship breaks down or on the death of one of the parties.

The reliefs available on the break-down of the relationship include the following:-

  • Property Adjustment Orders (ie. a share in the property, even though he/she may not be listed as owner on the Title Deeds)
  • Compensatory Maintenance Orders (ie. maintenance payments)
  • Pension Adjustment Orders. (ie. right to seek a share in the other partners pension)

The Qualified Cohabitant has to satisfy the court that he or she is financially dependent on the other Cohabitant and that the financial dependence arises from the relationship or the ending of the relationship.

The legislation also provides for redress on the death of one Cohabitant where a Qualified Cohabitant may make an application to the Estate of a deceased Cohabitant.

Every case will be decided on its own facts and there are no automatic rights or entitlements to any orders.

Cohabitants’ Agreement

Section 202 of the legislation allows Cohabitants to enter into agreements to vary or extinguish certain rights provided by the legislation and to provide for financial matters during the relationship or when the Cohabitants’ relationship ends, whether through death or otherwise.

A Cohabitants’ Agreement is valid only if certain conditions are satisfied, including that each of the Cohabitants have received independent legal advice before entering into it.

A Cohabitants’ Agreement may provide that neither Cohabitant may apply for an order for redress under the Act or an order for provision from the estate of his or her Cohabitant.f you require more information regarding your rights or obligations as a Cohabitant or in relation to entering a Cohabitants’ Agreement please contact:

Síona Mooney or Emily Sexton

04 May 2011

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