The Civil Partnership Act, 2010 deals with not only the registration of civil partnerships for same sex couples but also sets up a scheme for unmarried co-habiting couples both of the same sex and opposite sex who can now legalise their relationship and Tim Shannon of Shannons Solicitors is a specialist in this area and was instrumental in drafting the first Co-Habitation agreement. The new Act of 2010 does the following:-
1. Sets up a redress scheme which provides protection for people at the end of a long-term same sex or opposite sex relationship. The Court can make Orders similar to those made by Court in Divorce or Separation proceedings including property adjustment orders, compensation orders, maintenance orders, pension adjustment orders and applications for provision from the estate of a deceased co-habitant.
2. The Act sets out the definition of a qualified co-habitant as a couple of the same sex or opposite sex living together for a period of two years or more where they are parents of one or more dependent children and five years or more otherwise.
3. Each case will be dealt with on its own merits but the court will be mindful of the following when deciding if couples at the end of a relationship come within the meaning of co-habitant;
i. The duration of the relationship.
ii. The basis on which the couple live together.
iii. The degree of financial dependence of either adult on the other.
iv. The degree and nature of any financial arrangements between the adults.
v. Whether there are one or more dependent children.
vi. Whether one of the adults cares for and supports the children of the other.
vii. The degree to which the adults present themselves to others as a couple.
4. In general the co-habitants must prove that they live together in an intimate and committed relationship and that they are not related to each other within the prohibited degrees of relationship or married to each other or civil partners of each other.