Irish Law has now provided for the rights of people who live together including those of the same sex or people who formalise their relationship by becoming Civil Partners but do not marry – a Co-Habitant.
Under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, a redress scheme has been established in order to provide rights for couples of the same or opposite sex who are co-habiting but not married or not in a registered Civil Partnership. If you come within the definitions , you are a Co-habitant.
If such a couple were to separate and if there is no agreement between them as to what is to happen to their financial assets or other entitlements, then, with the help of our experienced Family Law solicitors, the one or other co-habitant may apply to Court for assistance with Co-Habitant Rights, including formal Court Orders.
Time Limits for claiming Co-Habitant Rights
The new Redress Scheme may be activated by a cohabitant wanting to claim Co-Habitant Rights at the end of the relationship or on the death of one of the partners. Any court application to seek enforcement of Co-Habitant Rights must be made within two years of the relationship coming to an end.
Are All Co-habiting Couples Covered?
Not every partner or co-habiting couple can avail of these Statutory Co-Habitant Rights. Only couples who are living together for a two year period where there are children OR a five year period where there are no children, have the right to apply under the Scheme. The co-habitant wishing to apply must also come within the definition of a qualified co-habitant. The technical requirements of the Act are reasonably complex and the expert Family Law solicitors at Neil J. Butler & Co. can help you understand them and decide if you come within them.
If I Am A Qualified Co-Habitant, What Can A Court Do?
A qualified co-habitant seeking Co-Habitant Rights may apply to Court for financial relief or help under the Act at the end of the relationship. Amongst the Orders that can be made are the following:
- A Pension Adjustment Order so that such a Co-Habitant may apply for a portion of the other person’s pension
- Maintenance Orders where a qualified Co-Habitant may apply for a lump sum or a periodical payment from the other person
- A Property Adjustment Order whereunder the Court may transfer some of the other person’s houses or lands to the Applicant seeking Co-Habitant rights
- Succession Act Rights – there is no automatic right to take a share in a deceased Co-Habitant’s estate but the Court can make an Order giving such entitlement if it feels that the circumstances are just and proper to do so.
What If My Partner And I Agree That Co-Habitant Rights Should Not Apply To Us?
Under the 2010 Act, there is specific recognition of Co-Habitation Agreements. This is a document entered into by the people who are living together (the cohabitants) which sets out the shared financial affairs of the couple. It allows the couple to opt out of their Co-Habitant Rights under the 2010 Act because they wish to make other arrangements as set out in this Agreement.
However the Act says that such agreements about Co-Habitant Rights are only enforceable where:
- Both Co-Habitants have received independent legal advice or both have received legal advice from one solicitor and the other party has decided to waive independent legal advice
- The terms are negotiated on the basis of a full financial disclosure by both people of their respective assets
- The Co-Habitation Agreement must be in writing and the general Law of Contract has to be complied with
- The couple can make provision for each other through the Cohabitation Agreement
- The Court still has an overriding power to go beyond any Cohabitation Agreement if it is in the interest of justice to do so
Entering into such an Agreement about Co-Habitant Rights can help the relationship enjoyed by such a couple because it can take the pressure of this legislation away from that relationship. Experienced Family Law solicitors such as those at Neil J. Butler & Co. can help both of you through this process in a sympathetic and constructive way
Don’t forget …………!
If you are going through or have completed a Separation , Divorce or a relationship breakdown, then the plain fact is you are on your own. Even if you have the care of the children, you are the one that must think about what happens in the event of your death.
You have made all the other arrangements to divide assets and so on – DON’T FORGET THAT unless you make a Will which sets out what is to happen to your assets, the SUCCESSION ACT 1965 forces them to go in certain directions. It may not be what you have in mind , so ask us at Neil J. Butler & Co. to help you.
Look at our information on Wills.
You should also look at our information on Enduring Powers of Attorney – which allows you help yourself , in the event you become disabled.
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To discuss your Co-habitants queries and worries ,