- Are you aware the Civil Partnership Act affects heterosexual couples too?
- Are you cohabitating more that 3 years with children or five years without?
- Do you know that if your relationship finishes your partner could now have the rights to your assets?
- Do you know you have to specifically opt out of the cohabitation element of the Civil Partnership Act?
This month the first same sex civil partnerships started to take place in Ireland. Whilst they have received a lot of publicity, there has been a ticking time bomb put through front door of cohabitating couples, which has not received as much publicity.
The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 has made major changes to law relation to cohabitation and effects, not only the legal stature of the relationship, but also, the entitlement of individuals to protect assets and provides financial rights that anyone cohabiting needs to be aware of in order to ensure that the necessary legal steps are taken to make sure certain financial affairs agreed.
Before the Act was passed unmarried couples had no legal rights to the assets or estate of their partners, despite the belief that they were protected under the ‘common
Now there have been significant changes in the Act relating to the current law in respect of cohabiting couples. The Act now imposes obligations on unmarried cohabiting couples unless they specifically choose to opt out.
The Act also establishes a redress scheme to give protection to a financially dependent person at the end of a long-term cohabiting relationship. This provides a legal safety net for people in long-term relationships who may otherwise be very vulnerable financially at the end of a relationship, whether through break-up or through bereavement. The redress scheme may only be activated at the end of a relationship of at least five years duration, whether by break-up or death, and allows a financially dependent cohabitant to apply to court for certain remedies, including maintenance, pension or property adjustment orders, or provision from the estate of a deceased cohabitant.
The Act defines “qualified cohabitants” as those residing together as an unmarried couple in an intimate relationship for a period of five years, or two years where there is a child or children of the relationship. In determining case the economic dependency of the claiming partner is the key factor, although other criteria must also be taken into account including the duration of the relationship and the contributions made by each cohabitant, whether financial or otherwise.
A new development is the provision of Cohabitant Agreements, which is a contract that allows couples to outline their financial affairs and specifically opt out of the ‘redress scheme’.
To be valid and enforceable the Cohabitant Agreement must be in writing and signed by both cohabitants with independent legal adviser.
If you would like to talk about the your legal or financial rights in relation to cohabitation or drawing up a Cohabitant Agreement, then please call Anthony Joyce on 01 4545 000 or email Anthony@anthonyjoyce.ie