Civil Partnerships

The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 was introduced into law in January 2011. In effect, the Act equates civil partnership with marriage in most instances. Parties to a marriage cannot become civil partners and therefore it cannot be said to be an alternative to marriage, rather it is a separate scheme to allow those who do not have the option of marriage, i.e. same sex couples, to register their civil partnership. Many same sex marriages and civil partnerships registered abroad are also now recognised in Ireland as civil partnerships.

As with marriage, the registration of a civil partnership brings with it a range of recognitions, responsibilities and protections which relate to such areas as maintenance, shared homes, succession, taxation, domestic violence, social welfare and pensions.

Many same sex couples have registered their civil partnership in Ireland since its inception.

Regrettably, some of these relationships will fail and in those circumstances either partner can seek a dissolution of the relationship from the court. The court also has powers to make ancillary financial relief orders similar to those available in the context of separation or divorce. In doing so the Court will have regard to similar statutory factors as those that apply in the case of separation and divorce.

A Court may grant a decree of dissolution if it is satisfied that:

  • At the date of the institution of the proceedings the civil partners have lived apart from one another for a period of or a period amounting to at least two years during the previous three years; and
  • Proper provision, having regard to the circumstances, exists or will be made for the civil partners.

In granting a Decree of Dissolution, a court need only consider provision for the other partner and not for any dependent member of the civil partnership.