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Civil Partnerships

Civil partnership is now law in Ireland and allows same-sex couples to formally and legally register their relationships

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is formal legal recognition by the State of a relationship between two people of the same-sex. Civil partnership is a different legal union to that of civil marriage. However, civil partners will enjoy most of the same rights and responsibilities of a married couple. The way you enter into a civil partnership and a civil marriage are almost identical.

Who can enter into a civil partnership?

Any two people of the same-sex can enter into a civil partnership, once they are aged 18 years or over and are not already married or in an existing civil partnership.

Civil partnership provides a very wide range of protections and rights to same-sex couples akin to those in civil marriages. It also provides a significant set of mutual obligations for each civil partner, for example the obligation to financially maintain your partner and share resources.

The Act does not change the law on issues relating to children, for example, guardianship, adoption, custody, access or maintenance.

The courts are able to grant a decree of nullity of civil partnership in broadly the same way as decrees of nullity of marriage are granted. The courts are also able to dissolve civil partnerships in a similar way to the granting of divorce.

Orders such as protection orders, maintenance orders and pension adjustment orders may be made in the course of court proceedings for the dissolution of civil partnerships in the same way as such orders may be made in judicial separation and divorce proceedings. Unlike divorce proceedings, the civil partners’ legal advisers are not required to discuss the possibility of reconciliation, mediation or other alternatives to dissolution. The court may, however, adjourn proceedings in order to facilitate such alternatives.


Same sex couples currently have no legal entitlement to marry in Ireland, which is against the trend across Europe and internationally. In the last decade, at least 14 other countries have extended the right to marry to same sex couples, and in some cases the full right to adopt.

What is the legal position of Same Sex Couples in Ireland in 2013?

Although there is no legal right to marry, couples can register a Civil Partnership under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights of Co-Habitants Act 2010, which came into force in January 2011….a rather large title for a fairly straight forward Act. A Civil Partnership is legally very similar to marriage, and the 2010 Act reflects this in terms of the financial, property and pension rights which it gives. However, the Act falls down when it comes to children. There is a lack of recognition of the rights of same sex parents in relation to their children, and – equally – of the rights of children of same sex couples in relation to their parents. >>Read more….