The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights & Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 (the "Act") came into effect from 1 January 2011. It makes fundamental changes in the law by introducing rights for civil partners (same sex couples, who can now register their relationship) and certain cohabitants.
The bulk of the Act concerns civil partnerships which are partnerships which can be registered under the Civil Registration Act, 2004 on application by two persons of the same sex.
Registration of Civil Partnership
A Civil Partnership can be registered on completion of certain formalities. Generally, the rules require:
three months' notice to the Registrar; attendance at the office of the Registrar not less than five days before the date on which the Civil Partnership is to be registered to sign a declaration that there is no impediment to its registration; and completion of a Civil Partnership registration form in the presence of each of the proposed civil partners, the Registrar and two witnesses over 18 in a public place. Recognition of foreign relationships
The Act contains provision for the recognition of foreign registered Civil Partnerships or similar classes of legal relationship.
Rights conferred on Civil Partners
After a Civil Partnership has been registered each of the partners acquires specified rights, including:
The shared home in which the Civil Partners ordinarily reside will be subject to protection similar to that which applies in the case of married couples so that generally it is not possible for the partner who owns the home to dispose of it without the prior consent in writing of the other partner except in circumstances where a court dispenses with the other partner's consent. A court can on application make a maintenance order requiring one civil partner to provide maintenance to the other. Such orders can be enforced through, inter alia, attachment of earnings orders. Agreements purporting to exclude or limit the ability of a court to award maintenance are void. The Act confers succession rights on civil partners. The civil partner will have a legal right share to the deceased partner's estate similar to that of a surviving spouse. If the deceased leaves a civil partner and no children, the surviving civil partner's legal right is to 50% of the estate. If the deceased has left children then the surviving partner's share is to one-third of the estate. In case of intestacy if the deceased...