How civil partnership changes your legal status
Civil partnership is a legally binding civil contract and gives rise to many far-reaching legal consequences which are generally similar to the legal consequences of getting married. 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 you marry, your civil partnership is automatically dissolved. Partnerships registered abroad since 16 May 2016 are not recognised as civil partnerships in Ireland.
Civil partnership changes your entitlements and obligations regarding:
- Social welfare
- Life insurance and pensions
- Shared home
- Barring, safety and protection orders
Other consequences of civil partnership
Civil liability: a surviving civil partner may sue in respect of the wrongful death of their civil partner, where the death was caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another person and has resulted in injury or mental distress to the survivor.
Mental health: a civil partner may apply for the involuntary admission to a psychiatric institution of a mentally ill civil partner (provided the parties are not separated and provided the applicant has not been the subject of an application under the Domestic Violence Acts).
Power of attorney: a civil partner must be informed of the registration of an enduring power of attorney. Similarly, an enduring power of attorney in favour of a civil partner ceases to be valid if the partnership is dissolved or there is a safety or barring order against the civil partner.
Property disputes: a civil partner may apply to the courts for a decision in relation to disputes over property with his/her partner.
Tenancies: Under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 a civil partner may be able to take over a tenancy on the death of their partner.
Former spouses who entered into civil partnerships
Former spouses who entered into civil partnerships effectively lost their status as former spouses. Under divorce legislation, former spouses continue to have the right to apply to the courts for maintenance and property orders. However, once they entered into a civil partnership, this changed. Maintenance orders and pension adjustment orders in favour of a former spouse lapsed if that spouse entered into a civil partnership. A property adjustment order may not be made for the benefit of a former spouse if that spouse has registered in a civil partnership.