Practice Area

Co – habitation/Civil Partnership


Under the relevant legislation being the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, Cohabitants are defined in that Act as two same sex or opposite sex adults who are:

  • Not married to each other and not in a registered civil partnership
  • Not related within the prohibited degrees of relationship i.e. relationships which would make them ineligible to marry each other
  • Living together in an intimate and committed relationship

Under the above Act, a redress scheme has been introduced for cohabiting couples which is used to provide protection for a financially dependent member of that couple, if a long-term cohabiting relationship ends through either death or separation.

The redress scheme provides for a broadly similar range of orders as are available to married couples when they separate or divorce.

In order to apply for the redress, you must be a qualified cohabitant i.e.

  1. You must have been a cohabitant for at least five years or in the alternative, you were a cohabitant for two years if you have a child with you cohabiting partner.
  2. If one of you is still married, then neither of you may be a qualified cohabitant until the married person has been living apart from them spouse for the amount of time required for them to be entitled to seek a divorce i.e. two out of the last three years.
  3. If you are a qualified cohabitant, you may apply for orders such as Maintenance Orders, Property Adjustment Orders, Pension Adjustment Orders and related Orders such as Attachment of Earnings Orders. You may also apply for provision to be made from the estate of a deceased cohabitant.  You do not have an automatic right to obtain these orders and it would be up to the court to make such orders if it is satisfied that you were financially dependent on your cohabitant partner.
  4. In general, you must apply for any of the above orders within two years of the end of the relationship, and an application for provision from the estate of the deceased partner must be made within six months from an application for the Grant of Probate.

Cohabitants also have the option of entering into an agreement with one another which deals with financial matters between cohabitant partners.  An agreement in this regard can include a provision to the effect that the above-referred redress scheme does not apply to them and essentially, they can opt out of the redress scheme.

Agreements entered into by cohabitants prior to the commencement of the Act, on the 1st of January 2011, are not enforceable.


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