In Ireland, since the introduction of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, certain cohabiting individuals have rights as against their cohabiting partner. These rights include the right to maintenance and financial provision from the partner.
What is a cohabitant and qualifying cohabitant? A cohabitant is defined in section 172(1) as follows:
172.— (1) For the purposes of this Part, a cohabitant is one of 2 adults (whether of the same or the opposite sex) who live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship and who are not related to each other within the prohibited degrees of relationship or married to each other or civil partners of each other.
A qualifying cohabitant is defined in the legislation in section 172 (5) as:
(5) For the purposes of this Part, a qualified cohabitant means an adult who was in a relationship of cohabitation with another adult and who, immediately before the time that that relationship ended, whether through death or otherwise, was living with the other adult as a couple for a period—
(a) of 2 years or more, in the case where they are the parents of one or more dependent children, and
(b) of 5 years or more, in any other case.
If there is any dispute about a person being a cohabitant or qualifying cohabitant a Court will look at the surrounding facts and circumstances such as
- The contributions of each person in looking after the home
- The earning capacity of each partner, and financial dependence of either partner on the other
- The degree to which they presented themselves to others as a couple
- Whether there are children
What orders can a Court make?
If a Court is satisfied that an individual was part of a cohabiting couple it can make a wide range of orders such as dealing with
- Property adjustment
- The estate of the partner
Time limits for cohabiting partners
If a person wishes to bring a claim to Court on foot of being part of a cohabiting couple relationship he/she has 2 years from the termination of the relationship to do so.
Two years is not a long time within which to take action if your relationship breaks down, therefore you would be well advised to consider getting legal advice before you run out of time.