The ‘Cohabiting Couple’ and Relationship Breakdown

By April 18, 2016 No Comments

Many people understand that getting married impacts on your legal status, your inheritance rights, pensions and tax brackets. However, not everyone is aware that by simply living with a partner, your relationship can also become subject to regulation by Family Law.

The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 came into effect on the 1st of January 2011.  It introduced a redress scheme for cohabiting couples who are not married or in a civil partnership.

This scheme aims to ensure that if the relationship ends either through death or separation the financially dependent member of the couple has some protection. As such, the scheme allows the dependant partner to apply for:

  • Maintenance Orders
  • Property Adjustment Orders,
  • Pension Adjustment Orders
  • related orders such as Attachment of Earnings Orders
  • Provision to be made for them from their deceased partner’s estate.


Does this apply to me?

There is no automatic right to any of the above orders. To make an order, the court must be satisfied that you

›  have cohabited for at least 5 years (or two if you have a child together)

›  are financially dependent on your other half.

The court will also consider issues such as the duration of the relationship, the rights of others such as a spouse or ex-spouse, the contributions made by each partner (financial or otherwise) and the financial needs of each partner.

It is possible to opt-out of this scheme by creating a ‘Voluntary Agreement’, although this may be set aside by a court in exceptional circumstances. In order for a Voluntary Agreement to be valid, you must both receive independent legal advice, or receive legal advice together and waive your right to independent legal advice. 


HM   Hughes Murphy Solicitors in Dublin offers expert legal advice on Family Law in Ireland.   

   To learn more about your rights or to receive advice on making a Voluntary Agreement,

               call us on 1800 910 912 or submit our Contact Form to receive a call-back.