THE CIVIL PARTNERSHIP AND CERTAIN RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF COHABITANTS ACT 2010 – SAME SEX COUPLES AND COHABITANTS.
This Act gives legal recognition to same sex couples in Ireland. It also gives rights and protection to co-habiting couples seeking financial relief from a partner after the breakdown of a relationship or the death of a partner.
The Act gives recognition and effect to Cohabitant Agreements and recognises the joint financial and property affairs of cohabiting couples.
For expert family law advice contact Michael Burns, principal of MB Solicitors and an expert on cohabitation agreements.
WHO IS A QUALIFYING COHABITANT?
Under Section 169 the Act defines a cohabitant as
“One or two adults (whether of the same or the opposite sex) who live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship and who are not related to each other within the prohibited degrees of relationship or married to each other or civil partners of each other”.
Section 169 (2) of the Act requires the Court to consider whether or not two adults are Qualifying Cohabitants by taking into account the circumstances of the relationship and in particular the following:
(a) the duration of the relationship;
(b) the basis on which the couple lived together;
(c) the degree of financial dependency of either adult on the other and any agreements in respect of their finances;
(d) the degree and nature of any financial arrangements between the adults including any joint purchases of estate or interest in land or joint acquisition of personal property;
(e) whether there are one or more dependent childr
(f) whether one of the adults cares for and supports the children of the other and;
(g) the degree to which the adults presents themselves to others as a couple.
In addition to the above a further requirement is that the party claiming to be;
“Qualifying Cohabitant must have been living together with the other person as a couple for a period of two years or more in the case where they are the parents of one or more dependent children and where there are no children for five years prior to making any application..”
Time spend by the parties living together as a couple prior to the legislation is taken into account in the time spent living together.
The Court can make the following Orders in respect of an application by a Cohabitant under the Act:
- Property Adjustment Orders, an order changing the ownership of property held by a couple.
- Maintenance Orders, an order directing payment of a fixed sum to be paid weekly or monthly.
- Attachment of Earnings Orders, an order where a person fails to comply with a maintenance order and it can be taken from their pay each week.
- Pension Adjustment Orders, an order requiring an portion of a person’s pension to be paid to an applicant.
- An order giving a surviving cohabitant provision out of the estate of the deceased co-habitant.
The applying Co-Habitant, not only must establish financial dependency but must further satisfy the Court that this financial dependency arose as a result of either the relationship itself or the ending of the relationship.
WHAT ARE THE TIME LIMITS IMPOSED IN THE ACT?
Legal proceedings must be commenced within two years of the end of the relationship between the Cohabitants or on the death of the partner of the applying Cohabitant.
What if One Cohabitant has died?
Under Section 191 of the Act a qualifying Cohabitant may after the death of his or her Cohabitant but not more than six months after representation is first granted under the Succession Act 1965 in respect of that Cohabitant’s estate apply for an Order under this Section for provision out of the net Estates of his/her late partner.
The onus is on the Cohabitant to notify the Personal Representatives of the Estate of the deceased within 6 months.
WHAT IS A COHABITANT AGREEMENT?
A Cohabitant Agreement allows couples who intend to live together or who are living together to enter into a legally binding agreement to regularise their financial position during the relationship and provides for the division of property and other financial matters if the relationship breaks down or either party dies.
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