Cohabiting, Unmarried & Same Sex Couples

We use our breadth of knowledge in this changing area of law; whether we are fighting for your rights of your children or helping you protect your assets.

Following the commencement of the Marriage Act 2015 on 16 November 2015, you can no longer register a civil partnership.

Couples already in a civil partnership can apply to marry or remain as they are. If they marry, their civil partnership is automatically dissolved.

For confidential advice please contact our specialist family law solicitors.

The Marriage Referendum in May 2015 legalised same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples therefore enjoy most of the same legal protections and entitlements as opposite-sex couples.

We have experience in advising same-sex couples on divorce and separation, as well as maintenance, so please contact us if you would like advice on your situation.

Cohabitants are a couple (opposite or same-sex) that are not married to each other, not registered as civil partners (but could be) and living together in an intimate and committed relationship for at least 5 years, or two years if they have a child together.

Whether or not an unmarried opposite-sex or same-sex couple qualifies as cohabitants, depends on:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The basis on which the couple live together
  • The degree to which the couple present themselves to others as a couple
  • Each person’s degree of financial independence
  • Any contributions made to acquiring property or other assets
  • Age and health of children
  • Whether one of the adults cares for and supports the children of the other

Cohabitants do not have the same legal rights as married couples or civil partners, but they do have certain rights in relation to property, children, inheritance, maintenance and access to fertility services.

How can you protect your interests?

Cohabitation agreement

Unlike in the case of separation or divorce where a Prenuptial Agreement is not legally enforceable, under Section 202 of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, unmarried Cohabitants can execute an Agreement which would regulate finances at the ending of their relationship.

A Cohabitants’ Agreement is valid only if the cohabitants:

  • Have each received independent legal advice before into it, or
  • Have received legal advice together and have waived in writing the right to independent legal advice,
  • The agreement is in writing and signed by both cohabitants, and
  • The general law of contract is complied with.

This is an agreement we can draw up that details, amongst other things, how property and assets are owned and how they will be divided in the event of the relationship ending. It can also set out arrangements for children and finances (including responsibility for the mortgage and bank accounts).

Client Testimonial

Grainne dealt with my case, myself and my partner were in a same sex union and we needed an agreement put in place to deal with our house and business. Grainne was very personable to deal with and helped us achieve an outcome that was in both of our interests. Thank you Grainne“.

Brian, Castletroy