Living Together/ Co-Habiting

As it is so common in Ireland for unmarried couples to live together, people are often surprised to discover that unlike married couples, couples who have co-habited on a long term basis without a marriage certificate have no automatic rights should the relationship break up or one partner die.
Such persons have no automatic property rights, right to occupy the home in which they have lived, right to financial support or right to inheritance should their partner die without having made a will.

The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitant’s Act, 2010 gives protection at the end of a long-term cohabiting relationship to a person who is economically dependent on the other. This economic dependency must have arisen because of the relationship.

Such a cohabitant does not have automatic rights but does have the right under the Act to seek redress from the court and obtain reliefs in respect of the other cohabitant’s property, maintenance orders, pension adjustment orders or a provision from the estate of a deceased cohabitant.

The Act encourages cohabitants to take responsibility for putting in place a Co-Habitant’s Agreement that will regulate their living arrangements and provide for financial matters during the relationship and should the relationship end through death or otherwise.

Importantly, under Section 202 of the Act, both parties may choose to enter into an agreement that simply opts out of the provisions of the Act so that it will not apply to them. However, this will only be possible if both parties have received independent legal advice, and a written agreement is put in place that has been signed by both parties. This can apply in any manner of personal circumstance but is most likely to be of benefit to financially stable mature couples who have children from prior relationships and choose to co-habit later in life.

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