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THE CIVIL PARTNERSHIP AND CERTAIN RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF COHABITANTS ACT 2010

The enactment of the Act sees very significant changes to the legal status of unmarried couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex. Much has been made of the Civil Partnership aspect of the Act however the significant changes for co-habiting couples, whether same-sex or opposite sex couples, have largely gone under the radar.

Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants (applicable to both same sex and opposite sex couple):

Prior to the passing of the Act, unmarried couples had no legal rights or entitlements regarding the assets or estate of their partner. The old phrase "common law spouse" gave the wrong impression in that respect. This Act now imposes certain rights and obligations upon these individuals, unless the couple specifically choose to negate the effects of the Act by entering a Co-habitant's Agreement. This Agreement must be in writing signed by both parties and in compliance with the general law of contract. The parties must have taken independent legal advice OR having taken legal advice together, can waive in writing the right to independent legal advice. The Act allows for "qualified co-habitants" (co-habitants residing together as an unmarried couple in an intimate relationship for a period of five years, or two years where there is a child of the relationship) to apply to Court for certain reliefs on the ending of a long term relationship whether due to breakdown or death. Where the qualified co-habitant can satisfy the Court that he/she is financially dependent on the other co-habitant and that this dependence is as a result of the relationship or ending of the relationship, can at its discretion make any of the following orders:

Civil Partnership (applicable to same sex couple only):

The Act allows for:

Cost

Clients who would like to be fully advised of their rights prior to taking any action, can avail of a once-off consultation for €200 plus VAT following which they will receive a detailed letter outlining the options open to them. Drafting a co-habitation agreement will cost from €300 to €500 depending on the complexity of the agreement. Contact us for further details.

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