Dissolution Of Civil Partnerships

The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 came into effect on 1 January 2011. The Act provides that civil partners have broadly the same rights as married couples in areas such as maintenance, the family home, succession, pensions and a range of other civil laws. The Act does not change the law on issues relating to children, for example, guardianship, adoption, custody, access or maintenance.

Civil partnerships can be dissolved. A decree of nullity can be obtained in more or less the same way nullity of marriage is granted. The courts are also able to dissolve civil partnerships in a similar way to the granting of divorce in that the court can make order such as maintenance order, pension adjustment order and property orders to ensure the civil partners are properly provided for.

Unlike divorce proceedings, the civil partners’ legal advisers are not required to discuss the possibility of reconciliation, mediation or other alternatives to dissolution. The court may, however, adjourn proceedings in order to facilitate such alternatives.

To dissolve a civil partnership in Ireland:

  • The couple must have lived apart for at least two years during the previous three years.
  • Proper arrangements must have been made or will be made for the civil partners.

The courts can make orders in relation to the following:

  • Maintenance for the dependent spouse
  • Transfer/sale of any property owned by the couple
  • Life policies and pensions
  • Succession rights

The grant of these orders is not automatic. The Court will take a number of factors into account when deciding whether or not to make an order. These factors include:

  • The financial circumstances, needs and obligations of each cohabitant
  • The rights of others (including the rights of spouses, former spouses, civil partners, former civil partners and dependent children of either partner)
  • The duration and nature of the relationship; and the contribution made by each, financial and otherwise.

You may make a Cohabitants’ Agreement with your partner to provide for the financial arrangements in the event of the break-up of your relationship.

For such an agreement to be valid, the following conditions must be met:

  • Each of you has had independent legal advice or you have received legal advice together and have waived the right to independent legal advice;
  • The agreement constitutes a contract and complies with the law of contract; and
  • The agreement has been signed by each of you.

You may contract out of the redress scheme by means of a Cohabitants’ Agreement. Cohabitants’ Agreements are enforceable by the Court, however, the Court may set them aside or vary the agreement if the enforcement of the agreement would cause serious injustice.

For a confidential chat please feel free to call our specialist family solicitor on 01 833 3097

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